CBI coursework creates ties that bind
) -- Jason was raised by his grandfather and his aunt on a small farm in Missouri. His aunt was the family breadwinner, so he grew very close to his grandfather.
But his grandpa passed away when Jason was just 13, and his life was thrown into a tailspin.
“Not understanding what was going on in my life at the time of my grandpa’s passing, I became rebellious and began running around with the wrong people,” Jason said.
Against his aunt’s wishes, Jason quit school and started working to support his drug habits. His life of partying and drug use continued through his marriage at age 18 and the birth of his daughter the following year. Life spiraled completely out of Jason’s control, and soon he lost his family and his freedom when he was sentenced to life in prison in 2001.
(Photo courtesy of Crossroad Bible Institute)
Haunted by his actions, Jason found prison life to be unbearable, as he faced bullying and ridicule from fellow prisoners after they learned of his crime. “I honestly didn’t know if I could take it anymore, and my roommate asked me to go to church with him one evening,” he said.
Jason’s aunt had encouraged him to attend church as a child, but he had never truly experienced the presence of God in his life until that moment. During the prison church service, Jason encountered the Lord in a way that captured his heart.
“I found refuge and peace while I was at church,” Jason said. “I could actually block out prison and all of my mistakes in life for a few hours.”
The roommate who invited Jason to church was Darnell, a CBI student with a great testimony of his own.
“We have been friends for 6 years now. We are both born-again Christians,” Jason said. “I am proud to call Darnell my friend and brother in the love for our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Darnell not only brought Jason to church, he also introduced him to Crossroad Bible Institute. “We do our Bible studies together, sharing Scripture and personal thoughts on the questions set before us,” said Jason. “Both of us love sharing God’s Word and love with each other through our studies.”
Although the men are living in a maximum security prison, that doesn’t stop them from taking what they’ve learned and passing it on to others. “We try our best to keep our faith and love for the Lord strong and share it with others that are willing to listen,” said Jason. “It gives us hope and joy in a place that otherwise would be dark and lonely.”
Jason and Darnell have been studying through Crossroad for several years and are both currently enrolled in Survey of the Bible. “I would like to thank Crossroad Bible Institute along with all their staff and Instructors for being my friend and helping me understand God’s Scripture and love for me,” Jason said. “I know all about loss and regret. I also know about love and hope now as well.”
You can help people like Jason and Darnell inside a prison experience the joy, hope, and love that are found only in the Lord: become a CBI Instructor
or make a donation to CBI.
Zika Virus touches off global abortion debate
Latin America (MNN) -- Last week, the World Health Organization
declared the rise in birth defects linked to the Zika virus outbreak a public health emergency.
(Image courtesy Wikipedia/Centers For Disease Control)
Some countries affected by the outbreak have warned women not have children for the next two years.
Brazil has been one of the hardest hit countries. Melissa Heiland, president of Beautiful Feet International
explains, “Abortion is illegal in Brazil, as it is in most Latin American countries. It’s illegal, except in the case of the mother’s life or anencephaly (which is nearly always fatal) [baby is developing without a brain].” For example, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua don't allow abortion under any circumstances. Brazil, Venezuela, and Guatemala are highly restrictive, meaning they only allow it if the mother's life is in grave danger. Many of these areas are also predominantly Roman Catholic, and there are strict sanctity of life expectations.
Up to 650,000 Zika infections are expected in the coming months. The virus is suspected of causing babies to be born with a condition called microcephaly,
which results in unusually small heads and brains. While most do not develop significant symptoms, some of the children who do develop microcephaly could grow up with minimal delays and intellectual impairment, while others could be in a vegetative state.
Epidemiologists have raised the possibility that there could be an explosion of microcephaly cases in the next few months.
Scientists say it's not always possible to tell how severe the impact of the deformity will be early on. Yet, even though scientists have not yet found a definitive link between Zika and the deformities, doctors are making the connection circumstantially. Heiland adds, “There are some abortion activists that are calling for the laws to be changed in Brazil so that women that contract the Zika virus are allowed to abort their babies.” The panic among pregnant mothers is touching off a heated abortion debate. Poor women are by far the most affected. No one doubts that the situation is frightening, she says. “If you are a pregnant woman in Brazil, certainly you are going to have some level of anxiety, it will reveal that peace only comes through Jesus Christ.”
The good news: National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases
(NIAID) believes they could have a Zika vaccine ready by the end of this year. A DNA-based vaccine and a live vaccine option have already been tested and are showing promising results.
(Photo courtesy Beautiful Feet International)
In the meantime, Heiland says they’re taking as much preventative action as they can. First, she explains, “We have not seen this in any of our centers. Our centers are in West Africa, and then Costa Rica and Mexico.” She notes, “They’ve just had their first recorded case of the Zika virus last week in Costa Rica. We have not seen it in any of our clients.”
Their volunteers are taking preventative measures as much as possible. ”They are trying to combat that with a message to our girls about being careful, about staying covered up, about mosquito repellent.” A doctor who works with Beautiful Feet is working on an information piece that explains more in detail. The main issue that’s being overlooked is the sanctity of human life. Despite the threat of a birth defect, Heiland says the value of a life is not connected to what you can or can’t do. “Every person, every life, no matter how short or how long, has value and purpose without exception.” Abortion, by nature, is an end to something living. It has impact. “When they make that choice, it’s going to hurt not only the child, but also the mom, as well.”
(Photo courtesy Beautiful Feet International)
Pregnancy center ministry allows Beautiful Feet volunteers to meet the deepest spiritual needs of the women who come to them, as well as their earthly needs. Given the pressures surrounding the Zika virus outbreak, Heiland asks you to ”pray for protection for these women in Brazil and Latin America and Central America and throughout the world--protection for the women and for their babies--and that they would come to Christ for an answer.”
Would you pray that as these women go to the pregnancy centers, they would say, "I’m afraid. What can I do?" In a time of fear, pray that the Beautiful Feet volunteer response will be the grace to do
. “We want to teach them about Jesus so that they can know and raise their children to love the Lord.”
Refugee life grows desperate in Turkey
Turkey (MNN) -- Burgeoning refugee camps in Turkey have gone from bad to worse. The growing crowds are bringing in sicknesses, and food is scarce.
In response, leaders from more than 70 nations are meeting in London to discuss raising money for the 4.59 million registered Syrian refugees who have crossed the borders into Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and a number of European countries.
Refugee children await help at a tent camp in Adana, Turkey. (Photo, caption courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)
The hope is to raise billions of dollars in order to provide refugees with homes, education, and supplies.
has reported the pledges of the EU ($3.3 billion), Germany ($2.6 billion), the UK ($1.7 billion), and the US ($925 million). This money will be spent over the next 12 months.
Of the Syrian refugees that have fled their home country and registered with the UN, more than 2.3 million are currently residing in Turkey. Approximately 9% of this population is living in refugee camps, Christian Aid Mission
But after Russian strikes on Syria's Aleppo, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expects the number to increase by up to 70,000.
Refugee desperation grows as winter bites
Christian Aid Mission reports
it is one of the coldest winters on record in the country and swine flu is currently spreading throughout camps. At least 500 have been affected and 57 have died. Most recently, two Syrians and a pregnant Turkish woman have fallen victim to the disease.
Children are running around without shoes and socks. Newborns have no baby formula and "tight quarters" doesn't even begin to describe the close proximity of neighbors.
A ministry partner of Christian Aid Mission is reaching out to two camps. One has about 600 people living in 85 tents, the other has about 7,000 living in 1,200 tents.
With the expected 70,000 more to come, there are few answers, but a number of refugees are looking to ministries for support and supplies, Christian Aid Mission among these.
A refugee woman is overjoyed to receive a heater from an indigenous ministry distributing supplies in Adana, Turkey. (Photo, caption courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)
A refugee recently called their indigenous partner begging for supplies for his family because he had nothing to give them. "He kept saying that we are the only ones helping them," said the Turkish ministry director.
"They cannot work [in the fields] in winter, and he said kids were eating their own snot. I was wordless! I couldn't speak for 20 seconds. I didn't know what to say. He said it's very hard to see children die in front of them, and they are not able to do anything; they are starving and trembling from the cold."
The ministry team is seeing more refugees arrive every day without means of survival.
They're providing for physical needs and want to continue doing so with more than 150 heaters, 300 blankets, baby formula, diapers, socks, shoes, water, and food. But it's a big job, and they need your help with the project. Click here to see how you can help provide for families seeking survival.
Even though the times are rough, hope is rising. Christian Aid Mission's partner is going from tent to tent to share the Gospel, pray with families, and distribute Bibles. They've already seen two Syrians accept Christ and a number of others are asking questions about the Bible.
Right now, meeting physical needs is important, as is raising money for the sake of survival. But prayer is key in this fight. Only God can turn the bad into the good and restore hope.
- Pray for emotional strength for both ministries and refugees.
- Pray for enough physical provisions and for Bibles.
- Pray that sicknesses will stop spreading.
- Pray for hunger for eternal hope beyond this life.
Bible translation update: 954
International (MNN) -- In the midst of troubling global headlines, Faith Comes by Hearing
's Bill Lohr shares an exciting update from the world of Bible translation: God's Word has now been translated into 954 languages.
(Photo credit: Victor Ngo via Flickr)
"[Those] 954 languages represent over 6 billion people who speak or sign one of those languages, so that's over 85% of the world's population," Lohr adds.
Of the 17 new language releases that brought FCBH to the 954-mark, there are "three different sign languages that will now be available through the Deaf Bible app
The good news doesn't stop there, though.
"We really believe that the Great Commission should be completed within this generation," Lohr says. "It used to be 'could be,' [or] 'maybe' – all of those different questions.
"But we look at the technology, we look at the translations that are completed, we look at our ability to do recordings and other partners who are doing recordings, and we say that it should be completed in this generation."
Technology plays a significant role. Not only does it make the Bible translation process faster, it increases the ability of FCBH to get Scripture to people in a language and format they can understand.
"We're going to hit 1,000 languages in about May this year," shares Lohr. Furthermore, "we believe we're going to get to the 2,000-mark in much less time than it took to get to the 1,000-mark."
The Proclaimer was developed as a playback device for poor and illiterate people lacking the resources to receive God’s Word.
(Photo courtesy FCBH)
In the late 1980s, when FCBH first began
recording audio New Testaments, they could only do Bible translation in English. God has been expanding their horizons ever since, using the latest technologies and digital resources.
With another major milestone in sight, enthusiasm is rising.
"If we can hit that 2,000 [language] mark, we're talking about 97% of the world's population [speaking] one of those 2,000 languages."
You can help Faith Comes by Hearing cross the finish line in two easy ways:
"Lift us up for the resources to be made available, that our field recording partners will be in good health and protected; [pray for] everybody here on our staff," requests Lohr.
Find more prayer needs here.
(Photo courtesy Compassion International)
- Ask the Lord to provide FCBH with the resources it needs for Bible translation.
- Pray for the health and protection of FCBH's recording partners.
- Pray for the staff and leaders of Faith Comes by Hearing.
You can make a significant difference by helping FCBH get God's Word to every person who needs it. Whether the Lord has placed a passion for Bible translation or military outreach on your heart, there's a FCBH project that could use your support.
(Screenshot courtesy of Faith Comes By Hearing)
"We hate asking for [money] in Christian ministry, but it is the case: we need to have the funds to do it," says Lohr. "We could go out and get 50 more recording teams, but…we need to have the funds to do it."
See a list of ministry projects here.
New goals to impact India with audio Bibles
India (MNN) -- There’s a saying that goes, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest, until your good is better and your better best.” It’s possible that this quote might just be Audio Scripture Ministries
’ motto when it comes to audio Bibles.
(Audio Scripture Ministries photo)
Last year was a pretty good one in India for ASM, as it distributed 4,000 audio Bibles throughout the country.
But now, they’re setting the bar higher with a goal to distribute another 25,000 audio Bibles this year.
“We could realistically work with our partnerships on the ground and distribute that many audio Bibles to people. [These] could be people who live in leprosy communities, people with visual impairments, tribal(s) who’ve been waiting for a long time to have God’s Word in their heart language, as well as any other people who need God’s word in audio form,” explains JP Sundararajan with Audio Scripture Ministries.
While 25,000 may seem like a large number, it’s only a fraction of the number of people who are illiterate in India. Of the world’s total number of illiterate adults, 37% of them live in India
. That’s 287 million illiterate adults and 287 million reasons why audio Bibles are so important for this country.
However, ASM has another way of distributing audio Bibles.
Just last year, the organization began distributing Wildlife STORYTELLERS
to communities, particularly ones with children who’ve had severe traumatic backgrounds.
JP Sundararajan with some of the boys who received Wildlife STORYTELLERS.
(Photo courtesy ASM via Facebook)
Since its launch, ASM has distributed between 400-500 of these stuffed animals.
Now, ASM wants to double that number. But one of the biggest challenges to ASM’s work is the availability of resources.
“We have been very quiet about these new tools we have at our disposal, mostly because of the kind of need that is out there and how few resources we have,” said Sundararajan.
But you can help ASM get what it needs to share the Gospel! By donating to ASM, you are enabling the organization to give people a recording of the Bible, as well as helping ASM introduce people to Christ in one of the few ways possible.
To help share the Gospel with ASM, click here
To learn more about Wildlife STORYTELLERS, click here