Funding helps ministry continue fight against AIDS
DRC (MNN) -- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by the end of 2013 nearly 35 million people were infected with HIV.
Many are stepping up to prevent the threat of HIV turning into AIDS.
Annemarie Boks, an Africa Inland Mission (AIM)
missionary, is one person who is taking part in the fight against AIDS. She’s worked in Congo as a nurse for years. Since 2002, she has been working with the AIDS Awareness program of the CECA 20, or Communauté Evangélique au Centre de l’Afrique, as their manager.
The AIDS Awareness Program brings information about the disease to churches. They train church leaders in several different ways to care for people living with AIDS which opens doors to talking about God.
Leaders are helping by establishing support groups and action groups to provide support through the community and through God. Around 20 groups are already active.
Leaders also visit people with AIDS, encouraging and listening to them. Though it sounds simple, it has meant a lot to the people affected by the disease.
Finally, there is support of people who voluntarily test others. HIV tests are done in hospitals, but they must be confirmed in Uganda. There has been collaboration to get treatment of AIDS to Congo.
Recently, Boks and her team have been spreading a message about their fight against AIDS and the importance of being tested in schools and in a market. They successfully reached over 5,000 people.
Unfortunately, the program didn’t have quite enough sponsors, and the team believed it might be discontinued. But, after communicating the message through advertising, the team met at a hospital with visitors from Kinshasa who were evaluating the treatment program of people living with AIDS in the health zone of Adi.
One of the visitors is connected to an organization which was considering supporting the program. For the health zone of Adi, that would mean no more problems with shortages of ARVs or tests: they wouldn’t have to end the program.
By God's grace, the Kinshasa team said the health zone would receive support. Click here for more details.
Praise God that the program will continue. Keep praying for those affected by AIDS.
Medical missions trip report: December 2014
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation,who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” --Isaiah 52:7
(Photo, caption courtesy VBB)
SE Asia (MNN) -- It's been a full but satisfying December for a medical missions team serving with Vision Beyond Borders.
They've spent the past couple of weeks in Southeast Asia caring for refugees, playing with kids, and delivering Bibles to closed countries.
They've returned to their homes in the U.S. just in time for Christmas. As they celebrate the birth of Christ with family and friends, pray that the medical missions team takes time to reflect on their experience.
"Pray that God would continue to work His perfect plan in each of their lives to draw them closer to Him and His purposes," asks VBB's Dyann Romeijn.
"And then, for the Church overseas, [pray] for continued protection for them and that they will just continue to shine their light in the midst of darkness."
Becoming the hands and feet of Christ
Whether they're serving the Lord as short- or long-term missionaries, Christians often say they're "called to be the hands and feet of Christ." What this means is living out the commands of Scripture and caring for others like Jesus would if He were walking among us today.
In Southeast Asia, this concept took multiple forms for VBB's medical missions team.
A helper unloading medical equipment pauses for a picture.
(Photo credit VBB)
A majority of the medical missions team's nearly 400 patients were Karen refugees living along Burma's border. The most common ailments they treated included parasites, malaria, tuberculosis, tooth decay, infection, and malnutrition.
"These people are just happy to have somebody come in, check their blood pressure, give them a full physical, you know, because many of these people have never had medical care," Romeijn notes.
"Sometimes it's been many, many years [since] they've been looked at by a doctor because they don't have money, so they're not able to ever go in and get treatment."
Most of the Karen people are Christian, so fellowship with the team was a great time of encouragement.
During one part of the trip, the team split up into two groups. One group of medics crossed a nearby river by boat and set up a medical clinic in one of Burma's Karen villages.
The other group visited and played with children living in one of VBB's Children's Homes.
Along with good times, the team brought practical supplies like new blankets, toiletries, and some toys. In the evening, the group traveled to a jungle village with the kids and sang Christmas carols.
(Photo credit VBB)
Before the team left, they sat down in two rows and the children gathered all around them.
"They all started murmuring prayers for our safety and that we would touch a lot of people,"
shares one of the team members in a recent VBB update. "They blessed us more than we did them."
The final opportunity to be God's hands and feet involved smuggling His Word to believers in two closed nations. While it may seem like a dangerous task, Romeijn says the risk is pretty low for team members.
(Photo credit VBB)
"As an American, if we're caught in Customs with Bibles, the worst thing that's [likely] going to happen to us is we can be yelled at, or detained for a few hours," she says.
A bigger threat is posed to VBB ministry partners. Since they're citizens, their punishments would be more severe.
In the end, VBB's team managed to smuggle several back packs filled with study Bibles into the two closed countries. Each Bible holds a concordance and other study resources, and will be a great asset to the pastors and house church leaders who received them.
VBB missions: 2015
(Photo credit VBB)
The focus of this December short-term missions trip was primarily medical. However, in each opportunity the Lord presented, the VBB team was faithful to encourage other believers and share God's Word with any who didn't know Him.
"It's amazing to see the difference that it makes to these people," Romeijn says, referring to the impact VBB trips make.
"A lot of times, it isn't necessarily what we bring or what we do. It's just knowing that somebody cares and that somebody would come from half-a-world away to bring them something, to know that they're thought of."
If you'd like to experience a VBB short-term missions trip, click here
for their 2015 schedule.
Haitian Parliament on shaky ground
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned last week. What's ahead? (Photo courtesy of OEA - OAS via flikr http://goo.gl/da5QZk , some rights reserved)
Haiti (MNN) -- If elections don't take place by January 12, 2015, the Haitian parliament will dissolve.
In the aftermath of Prime Minister Lamothe's resignation, Haiti is wondering if his absence will make way for long-overdue elections, or cause more instability. When legislators' terms expire on the 12th, President Michel Martelly will be the sole leader of Haiti, says The Economist.
We spoke to Bill Passons of AMG International
to gain insight on how the situation could affect their ministry in Haiti.
Passons says, "There's been some civil unrest within the people of Haiti, and they're just demanding change. There's been a lot of protests, and they're demanding that both the prime minister and the president step down; recently, the prime minister has kind of gone ahead and done that."
Lamothe stepped down last week due to pressure from the people, and according to The Economist, it was an attempt to pacify the rowdy crowds in Port-au-Prince. President Martelly remains in office despite the people's demand for change. John Kerry, the United States' Secretary of State, is urging them to find a compromise instead of backtracking.
Passons says protests have sometimes turned violent and the Port-au-Prince region is in turmoil. He continues to say that with the stepping down of the prime minister, there is momentum building. The people are serious and are expecting elections to finally take place after years of delay.
January 12 also marks the 5-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the country of Haiti.
According to Passons, efforts to rebuild continue, and while from a world vantage point it may seem that things in Haiti have been improving, the money isn't going to the poor.
He says, "It's like the same thing over and over again. People come in with lots of promises, and not much changes. After a period of time they say, 'We've got to have change again.' But the extreme poverty and the instability seem to always be the constants there."
AMG's ministry in Haiti is located in Cap Haitian, away from the raucous crowds of Port-au-Prince. There they have two schools that serve around 1500 students.
While the protests haven't directly affected operations in Cap Haitian, Passons does expect that the implications of the political standoff will reach them eventually. He says, "Anytime there's a change in leadership and a new government steps in, they're going to have their policies and their things they want to enact. That always will have an effect on the country as a whole, and so we would also feel those effects, too."
With ministry and the country's health in mind, Passons says we need to be praying.
"We need to pray for stability there and that the government will be stabilized--the whole situation will be stabilized. They're not in a position to recover from more and more of these self-made disasters of political means. So they need to have a stable situation so that they can set the ground work to build a system to where all of Haiti can kind of rise up from the extreme poverty that it's in."
Passons encourages us to be praying for wisdom for the current leaders and ask God to set people in place where He wants them. Also we can pray that corruption would cease to be the political norm in Haiti.
Would you ask for God's protection over any ministries that are currently working in Port-au-Prince?
Passons hopes that through this disorder, the people of Haiti would look to someone higher than their president and the Haitian government.
He says, "If anything, what this does is show the frailty of man's systems and that we can't put faith in man, that ultimately we need to look to God and put faith in God. That's the stability Haiti needs, and that's the stability each Haitian needs.
"As the Gospel message is preached, even in these times of turmoil and trouble, that rings even more true and clearer in their ears as they see all the instability around them."
Grieving wife forgives despite tragic loss
(Photo courtesy The Voice of the Martyrs Canada)
Colombia (VOMC) -- Pabel, a 33-year-old evangelist of the Colombia Para Cristo ministry and an outreach partner of The Voice of the Martyrs Canada
, mysteriously disappeared last month.
Eight days after his disappearance in late November, Pabel’s body was located in the mountains of the Paez Indian Territory. The two murderers responsible for his death confessed and are in Indian custody.
In her grief over the tragic loss of Pabel, his widowed wife is responding through God's grace, which in itself is a very powerful testimony.
Kelly was granted permission to confront her husband's murderers as she had requested. She explained to the young men that although Pabel had always wanted to be with the Lord, the crime they committed had also caused serious harm to her family. She has been left without a provider, and her two young children no longer have their father.
As a Christian, this grieving widow willingly forgave the men responsible for her tremendous loss, indicating that she would also ask God to forgive them.
"Pabel lived and died for the cause of Jesus Christ," Kelly explained during a recent conversation with a VOMC ministry contact. "Life goes on," she says with heartfelt emotion. "And here I am with the flag to continue on with the work. Pabel never preached the Gospel to make friends but to save souls in the midst of such a place."
Her husband, Pabel, was one of the VOMC ministry team's dearest friends. He will be remembered as a valiant evangelist who gave his life for the cause of Christ.
“While we don't fully understand why Pabel's productive life was not spared, we can be sure that God will keep His promises to now provide comfort and care for this young widow and her two children," wrote VOMC. "Please join us in upholding Pabel's recently-widowed wife, Kelly, and their little ones in prayer, asking the Lord to surround them with His love and comforting presence as they work through the shock of their recent loss. May ALL things--even this tragic situation--work together for good in their lives (Romans 8:28) and also in the lives of many others there in Colombia, so that Pabel's desire to save souls is fully realized.”
Family Christian wants to thank you
(Photo credit Family Christian via Facebook)
USA (MNN) -- It's a common occurrence for mission organizations to endure a long process of fundraising before a project can get off the ground. So when it happens in 8 days, and the goal is met and surpassed, it's a remarkable thing.
Family Christian Stores
recently held an 8-day campaign to raise funds for a rescue center in the Dominican Republic. The center, run by Destiny Rescue, will provide a safe place for children, specifically girls, to escape from a life of sex trafficking. Read more about that campaign here.
Steve Biondo of Family Christian Stores says, "We had hoped to raise $150,000 to launch this project, and I can report by God's grace that we hit the goal and have now exceeded it."
The money will cover administration, set up, and the first year of operation. This includes staff and house set-up and rent.
"Because it was such a generous success, it will also fund the actual rescue cost for one year as well. So it really puts us in a great place to start rescuing by March or April of 2015," Biondo says.
Biondo has a special message for those who shopped at Family Christian Stores during that 8-day period and to those who gave to the project directly.
"First of all, a big Thank You to all Family Christian shoppers out there for shopping with us this Christmas season. Proceeds from all shopping go to causes such as this. For all of you who gave to this project, your generosity made it happen," he says.
From customers alone, $100,000 of additional donations was raised.
The best part of this center being established is that many children will receive a message they've never heard before.
Biondo explains, "It'll actually not only start operations, but [it will enable] faith-based operations in-country to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, that He is our Rescuer in every way.
"So, not only will kids be rescued physically,
but we will share with them the full Gospel of Jesus Christ so they can be rescued spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and enjoy the fullness of the life in Jesus Christ."
As Family Christian looks at this first success with international missions, they're excited to see other partnerships follow the pattern throughout Central and South America.
Praise God for the blessings He has poured over this project.
Keep coming back to hear more stories from Family Christian Stores about how they're making the name of Jesus great in all they do.