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Archive for the ‘10/40 Window’ Category

As I write this, I was supposed to be on a United Airline flight from Los Angeles to Montreal, with connections to Brussels, and finally to Entebbe, Uganda. There I was to join the rest of my team on medical aviation flights to two cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Instead, I am here in Los Angeles, along with most of our team, all deeply disappointed that our mission trip was postponed at the last moment because of terrorist threats aimed at the Entebbe International Airport and nearby areas bordering the Congo.

Sixteen of us from our church were scheduled to join Congolese church leaders at a major two-week conference in two cities to speak to groups of women, youth and religious leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs, civil servants, army and police officers, and educators. The goal was to help them to rebuild their communities and bring about reconciliation among Congolese whose lives, families, and communities were shattered by war and the loss of over six million of their men, women, and children.

The decision by our California church leaders to postpone the trip was made out of concern and responsibility for the safety of our members, but it meant that our Congolese co-leaders—who had spent months mobilizing churches, business owners, military and police officers, teachers, taxi drivers, and other groups, along with arranging air and ground transportation in two cities within their state—faced disastrous consequences if they were to cancel the conference.

So they decided to proceed with the conference with the hope of bringing in additional Congolese speakers, along with four of our team members who were already in transit from European layovers to Entebbe.

In the midst of our deep disappointment at the postponement, a few of us in Los Angeles briefly considered getting on our scheduled flights and continuing on the trip. But we nixed that thought, deciding that it was more important to abide by and respect the combined wisdom and decision of our church’s leadership.

So we consoled ourselves with Paul’s words in Romans 8:28,

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)

God willing, we will be in the Congo at a later date to continue our mission with our Congolese Christian brothers and sisters with whom we have been working over the past five years.

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To understand the ongoing crisis in the Congo, please watch the following video:

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And now for an update on Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, the 27-year-old Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to die after refusing to renounce Christianity:

In late June, an appeals court in Sudan ruled that a lower court’s judgment against her was “faulty” and released her after much international pressure. Thank you to those of you who were among the more than one million people who signed the petition to release her. I am convinced that your prayers and social media petitions played a part in her release.

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Between 1998 and 2007, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was ravaged by violent conflicts as tribal warlords and invading rebel armies fought over the country’s rich mineral resources needed by international corporations for the manufacturing of electronic products in cellphones, computers, and cars.

Over six million people died from these conflicts and from malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, and malnutrition brought on by war conditions. Even today there are still some 1.5 million Congolese who have been displaced or are in refugee camps.

The Evangelical Church—co-pastored by Rev. James Byensi who oversees more than 1,400 churches in Central Africa—is at the forefront of efforts to rebuild communities, resolve conflicts, reconcile enemies, train pastors, teachers, and Christian leaders, and teach good governance to business owners and political leaders, especially in fighting corruption and injustice.

In July—thanks to God and generous friends who donated money on my behalf—I’ll be part of a mission team that will travel to the DRC to work with the Evangelical Church to help individuals develop small businesses through training and micro financing, and by providing a variety of local leaders with advanced training in healthcare, nutrition, and K-12 education.

My role will be to use my background in teaching and curriculum development to train and encourage high-school teachers trying to rebuild their school system shattered by civil war. Many of them are not much older than the disinterested pupils they are trying to teach, and some of the teachers and pupils were once forced by warlords to become child soldiers during the war.

Please keep us in your prayers as we join the Evangelical Church to bring about reconciliation and rebuild the communities of Bunia and Butembo in the DRC.

And please click  the following link to view my photo essay on the Congo.

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Sometimes our minds go numb or blank when faced with staggering statistics. For example, according to UNICEF, there are over 150 million destitute and exploited children in South Asia, some as young as four years old, who are forced to work in the most deplorable and inhuman conditions.

Does that information concern or affect you?

Probably not, especially if you live in relative comfort and safety and have no personal reference to India or other South Asian countries through which to filter that information.

Imagine, then, that you’re so poor and destitute that you’re forced to hand over—or sell into slavery—your young son or daughter to beg, labor in a hazardous sweat shop, factory, pickpocket ring, or to be used and abused by sex traffickers.

Still can’t imagine that scenario?

Then let’s journey to Calcutta through the eyes and camera lens of Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman who spent over two years there making the Oscar-winning documentary about children living in the slum brothels of that city.

Get to know eight of these children through the love and compassion of Zana, a British photographer and filmmaker who taught them the art of photography and tried to inspire in them hope for a better future beyond the brothels.

Capture their excitement as they learn to use their cameras to see beyond the grime and poverty of their environment and to experience the joy at seeing their photographs displayed in galleries in New York and Amsterdam.

But agonize with them as you see the forces of evil that would try to keep them from getting out of the slums and the brothels, even forces such as their own mothers who want the girls to join them in prostitution.

I encourage you to take the time to watch this documentary, Born into Brothels, (rated R) and meet these boys and girls—Kochi, Shanti, Avijit, Suchitra, Manik, Gour, Puja, and Tapasi.

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If you watched the stories of these eight children to the end, I hope that you are moved enough to want to do something about the plight of children like them. While we cannot make an impact on the 150 million children in crisis as a whole, we can begin to change individual lives—one at a time.

That’s why I’d like to introduce you to GFA Bridge of Hope, the children’s outreach ministry of Gospel for Asia International. This ministry is improving the lives of South Asia’s poorest children through education, physical assistance, and the Good News of Jesus.

Gospel for Asia International has been able to rescue over 60,000 children from a life of bondage and enroll them in more than 480 GFA Bridge of Hope Centers throughout South Asia. Their goal is to minister to at least 500,000 children within a few short years.

Here’s how you can help:

1. Log on to the GFA Bridge of Hope website at http://nolongeraslumdog.org, and learn how this ministry is transforming the lives of children, their families, and their communities. View the various video clips that tell the stories of some of the children, and while you are on the website, order your free copy of No Longer a Slumdog: Bringing Hope to Children in Crisis, the book that features incredible stories of children who are finding new lives and transformation through the ministry of GFA Bridge of Hope.Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 10.47.43 AM

You can also log on to the Gospel for Asia website at http://www.gfa.org and get a more comprehensive view and scope of this multifaceted ministry. Explore the pages, links, photos, and videos, and get to know K.P. Yohannan, the founder of the ministry, and the amazing work that he and thousands of his national missionaries are doing throughout South Asia.

2. As you view these two websites, please pray and consider whether God is leading you to support this ministry among the children of South Asia.

Help by sponsoring a child:

You can sponsor a child by giving $35 a month for that child to attend a Bridge of Hope Center where he or she will get everything needed for a better future—education, school supplies, a daily meal, medical checkups, and Christian nurturing. 100% of your sponsorship is sent to the field to support the child that you choose.

I hope that you will join me in supporting through our sponsorship this dynamic ministry of Gospel for Asia, especially GFA Bridge of Hope and its redeeming work with children in crisis.

Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me . . . Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.“ –Jesus, Matthew 18:5; 19:14

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I know the power of a movie showing God’s love to the world.

As an angry, volatile teenage delinquent in 1961, I was brought to my knees in tearful surrender to Jesus Christ as I responded to his love that I saw portrayed in the film, Angel in Ebony, about Samuel Kaboo Morris.

As I describe in my memoir, I sobbed uncontrollably for over an hour after the film, for I felt the heavy weight of my sins pressing down on my being, sensed Christ encouraging me to surrender my sins and guilt to him, and felt his presence and his love enveloping and warming me.

I saw the anger and hatred I felt towards my parents, my willingness to commit murder in my thoughts, the pleasure I got from bullying and intimidating others, my obsession with pornography, and my vow to lose my virginity that year. All these confronted me, and I acknowledged them to Christ and begged his forgiveness.

Slowly the burden lifted, the sobbing subsided, and a sense of peace filled my being, and a great inner lightness and joy lifted me. There was a strange mixture of feeling totally spent and exhausted from my weeping, yet there was a lightness and new vigor that began to surge through my body, and by the time I rose from off my knees, I was a new person in Christ, a forgiven child of God.

There is another film that is having an even greater impact on individuals around the world—JESUS, a two-hour classic movie about the life and ministry of Jesus based on the Gospel of Luke.

Produced by Campus Crusade for Christ as The JESUS Film Project, the 1979 film, JESUS, has been translated into 1,145 languages, shown in over 200 countries in the peoples’ own languages, with the result that more than 200 million men, women, and children have made decisions to follow Jesus Christ.

According to the folks at The JESUS Film Project, every eight seconds another person somewhere in the world makes a decision to follow Christ after watching JESUS. That’s 10,800 people per day!

How is this possible?

Thousands of churches, mission groups, and denominational agencies around the world are using DVDs and video tools to show the movie in churches, homes, towns, villages, tiny communities, or just anywhere Christian workers can find an audience of one or more individuals not yet reached for Christ.

Many requests to show the movie are coming from local Christian leaders in some of the most restricted and hostile nations towards Christianity, many in the 10/40 window—the area located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator populated by predominantly Muslims, Hindus, Budddhists, Animists, Jews, or Atheists.

There are many stories on record at The JESUS Film Project of God changing lives through the movie JESUS, including the following story:

About 250 people had gathered in the small community hall of a mountain village in one of the most dangerous regions in the world for Christians. A Christian team had brought a DVD of JESUS, to show to the villagers.

After the movie was shown, the team was about to invite the crowd to accept Jesus Christ as their savior, when a man sitting on the floor stood up, opened his shirt, and revealed a suicide vest of explosives strapped to his chest.

Panic erupted in the room.

“Wait! Wait! Don’t leave!” the man shouted. “I’m not going to blow myself up! I need to tell you what just happened.”

It took several minutes for the panic to subside, and the man went on to relate how he had heard that Christians were going to show a blasphemous film, so he got approval from his religious leader to attend the showing and detonate the bomb in the audience.

“When the film started,” he continued, “I reached for the detonator and tried to push the button, but as I watched the film, Jesus turned and pointed right at me. He called my name and said loudly, ‘Don’t do that . . . follow me.’

“Over and over I tried. Every time I reached for the button he pointed to me and said, ‘Don’t do that . . . follow me.’ My hand froze every time. I couldn’t move my thumb. I gave up and just stayed to watch.

“Now I believe. I want Jesus to be my Savior. Can you help me know more about him?”

The team leader agreed, and after the man took off his vest and disarmed the explosives, the team not only led the man in accepting Christ as his savior, but they also led the 250 members of the audience in commitment to Christ.

That’s the power of a God-inspired movie—people surrendering to Christ after seeing and hearing the Gospel of Christ in their own languages.

That’s why I’d like to encourage you to help The JESUS Film Project produce more of these DVDS and video tools so that Christian workers around the world can continue to show this movie to millions more people.

Please go to http://jesusfilm.org and explore their website, read more of the amazing stories of how God is transforming lives through the film, and learn about the ministry’s needs and how you can help.

Your help could impact countless numbers of people for eternity.

Grace and peace.

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