Mission News Network

News Worth Listening To
  1. Greece (MNN) – Greece is in an election year. This year, billions could be riding on the result. The International Monetary Fund is keeping a close eye on the races because politicians are in a season of promises. The sitting Prime Minister, in a bid to keep his seat, sounds like he’s about to undo all the gains made by the economy. AMG International’s President and CEO Anastasios (Tasos) Ioannidis explains, “There are the European Parliament elections in May. There are also municipal elections at the same time.  Then there are Parliamentary elections for Greece itself.  Right now, they’re scheduled for October, but there’s speculation that they would be moved up to May to coincide with the other two elections.”

    The Mess

    (Photo courtesy of AMG International)

    A whole new government could be inheriting quite a mess to fix. The economy floundered to near insolvency in 2010,  before the IMF stepped in three international bailouts to the tune of 326 billion Euros ($370.2 billion). With each payout came a round of austerity measures, and the impact of those measures still lingers. The monies staved off the threat of bankruptcy and propped up the economy but created a crisis in the form of big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings. As a result, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shrank 25 percent and created an exodus of workers searching for a better life elsewhere.  When asked if the election results would impact AMG’s ministry in Greece, Ioannidis responded, “It’ll affect the operating environment in which we find ourselves. For the last four years, Greece has been under a government that has relied on taxation to basically balance the books.”

    The Impact

    Income tax is 45-percent for those earning more than 40,000 Euros ($45,427) and 22 percent for the first 20,000 Euros ($22,714,). Coupled with an unemployment rate that is the highest in the Eurozone, and voters want relief on two fronts: corruption and taxes. Ioannidis explains, “Taxation in Greece, right now, is excessive. They have tried not to cut the government sector, but instead increase taxes to support the government sector. There is a chance that if the government changes, the taxes will be lower and the next government will try to reduce expenses.”

    (Photo courtesy AMG International)

    Even the promise of jobs programs and a restoration of half of the minimum wage cut (11- percent for the first time in a decade) won’t be enough to satisfy voters who struggled through the austerity years. The only fix people feel good about are lower taxes and reduced expenses.  “This would result in more financial and economic draw for Greece which would be good for the country and for us.  It would allow us to have more local support and that would be a help, so in that sense, it would affect our ministry.”

    The Intersection of Prayer

    Taking a step back from the minutiae of politics and elections, Ioannidis reflects that while the results will have impact, they’re merely the backdrop to the bigger picture. AMG International is a Gospel-first global ministry that meets people’s deepest needs — spiritual and physical — by inspiring hope, restoring lives and transforming communities. To that end, “We should pray that the people who are elected, serve the country well; that the outcome of the election will be a government that is stable; that it will not be an unclear result (and therefore the country would be hard to govern).”

    (Photo courtesy of AMG International)

    That means other ministries can continue unimpeded. In Greece, AMG has Christian bookstores, childcare ministries, newspaper evangelism, literature and periodical publishing and distribution, and a prison ministry. They also have extensive work with the refugee population since Greece is the gateway country to Europe. Plus, “Please be praying for St. Luke’s Hospital in Greece (Thessaloniki). That is a very large ministry that reaches about 75-thousand people a year. Each of them is a unique opportunity to tangibly express the love of Christ with.” In keeping the main thing the ‘main thing’, he asks prayer “…that God will work in the hearts of the people and keep them open to the message of the Gospel and receptive to the message of the Gospel and then for a stable government to come out of the elections.”     Headline photo courtesy Thomas Wolf, Wikimedia/CC
  2. Mozambique (MNN) – Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, is currently facing a water shortage crisis. An ongoing drought and little to no rainfall has left Mozambique seriously short on water. The water taps in Maputo are only allowed to be turned on every other day in order to ration the limited supply of water in the region. Many people walk for miles to a single tap in a village, and even that tap is allowed to be turned on for only an hour a day.

    Banking Crisis and Refugee Increase

    This drought comes shortly after the November 2018 banking crisis, when the largest electronic banking system in the country was temporarily shut down due to debt claims. This caused nearly all ATMs and debit cards in the country to cease function. Mozambique is also experiencing an increase in their refugee population as people flood into the country from surrounding regions. The number of refugees has doubled since 2015, from 26,000 to over 40,000 by mid-2018. These are people coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, and Somalia. Furthermore, Mozambique has a literacy rate of 47 percent, which means a large chunk of their society learns orally. When it comes to encountering the ultimate Hope during this time of crisis, God's Word needs to be taught through oral methods like storytelling and audio Bibles.

    (Photo courtesy of Audio Scripture Ministries)

    The organization Audio Scripture Ministries faces several challenges as it steps into Mozambique with audio Bibles. These difficulties and the political instability that Mozambique faces create challenges for the distribution of audio Bibles in the area. Yet ASM continues to work with local pastors and communities to provide God’s Word in audio despite these challenges. Joshua Harrison, communications and development manager at ASM, says, “Political instability will come and go and the challenges of entire banking systems shutting down for some time will continue to be with us until the country is able to move forward.” In the meantime, Harrison says, “Our team is seeking to move forward and be faithful with what they are given.”

    Audio Bibles for Mozambique

    To fill the need for audio Bibles, ASM is working to provide 2,000 more audio Bibles for the people of Mozambique. “There is a great hunger for God’s Word in audio. For many people, they do not have access to a print Bible, they can’t read, or don’t own one, and, for them, hearing God’s Word in audio is the only way they are able to access it,” Harrison says.
    First test plot

    (Photo courtesy of Audio Scripture Ministries)

    Harrison says pastors and leaders are already asking for more audio Bibles so their communities may hear God’s Word as well. ASM is currently raising funds to send even more audio Bibles over to Mozambique in the future. But providing an audio Bible is not a one-to-one ration with people hearing the Gospel. One audio Bible helps not only the individual but also their families and villages. “One audio Bible can reach 8, maybe 10, maybe 12 people and really transform not only the individual but families and help bring the light of the Gospel to entire villages as more people listen and respond to God’s Word,” Harrison says.

    Hearing God’s Word

    The audio Bibles ASM provides are solar powered, durable, and can play the Bible for 14 hours straight. They are made to last in harsh and unstable conditions. “[These Bibles] can be recharged regardless of whether or not they have electricity that day is a huge blessing and can be a life-changing thing,” Harrison says. For those in Mozambique, this is the only way many can encounter the Bible. “For just 35 dollars… we can provide God’s Word in audio with the heart language recording completed to a family in Mozambique,” Harrison says. Such durable Bibles last much longer than other audio devices and can help share God’s Word in Mozambique. Do you want to get involved? Click here to donate an audio Bible to Mozambique. You can also pray for Mozambique as they face these challenges and instability and that they may hear God's Word.     Header photo courtesy of ASM via Facebook.
  3. North America (MNN) -- Native Americans – also known as American Indians or First Nations – are one of North America’s most-overlooked people groups. Despite hundreds of years of missionary work, less than 5-percent of Native Americans identify as followers of Christ. Many Native communities resist Christian outreach because of past abuses. Learn more about that here. According to Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Native citizens often view Jesus as “the white man’s God.”

    “It’s very rare to find any significant youth ministry on a reservation, and yet, they are the most broken, most devastated kids in America.”

    Healing for the brokenhearted

    The U.S. and Canada hold hundreds of Native American and First Nation tribes. Each one has its own rich heritage, culture, and language. Despite being distinctly different from one another, the same evil haunts them all.

    (Photo courtesy On Eagles Wings/Ron Hutchcraft Ministries)

    National statistics reveal the brokenness plaguing Native America, says Hutchcraft. It’s “demonstrated by a suicide rate that’s anywhere from 3- to 10-times that of the rest of the young people in America. “The rates of drug abuse and alcohol abuse, and sexual violence against women, are off the charts.” Nonetheless, Christ has won the hearts of some Native youth. They’re carrying His hope to their people through RHM’s On Eagles’ Wings ministry. Learn more here. “There is, in the young people of Native America, a warrior spirit that has been there for a long, long time,” notes Hutchcraft.

    “Unfortunately, the battle today is not against external forces so much as what’s going on right in Native communities. The hurt that is there, accumulated grief from so many years and so much loss.”

    Warrior Leadership Summit 2019

    Not all American Indian or First Nation communities struggle with poverty – but some do. As described here, chronic unemployment cuts opportunity short in Native-majority counties of Alaska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

    (Photo courtesy On Eagles' Wings/Ron Hutchcraft Ministries via Facebook)

    As such, Native believers from these communities need help attending OEW’s annual Warrior Leadership Summit – it kicks off the ministry’s summer outreach. Help someone attend the summit here.  “These young men and women come from Indian nations – indigenous nations – across the U.S. and Canada. Every tribe is more than a tribe, it’s a nation,” Hutchcraft adds. “We had 83 Native nations represented last year at Warrior Leadership Summit.” One nation is often described as “the suicide capital of North America.” Located in Ontario, the community is small – roughly 2,500 residents – but each year it loses several people to suicide. “This is a community where little six-year-old kids are in the woods huffing gas and dying from it,” Hutchcraft describes.

    “It’s just an unbelievably dark and painful place to grow up.”

    Yet – just as dawn breaks faithfully every morning – Christ overcomes the darkest night. God’s using the generous gift of an unknown donor to send an infusion of hope to this pain-ridden community. “They will probably be the largest group at Warrior Leadership Summit this year. They’re [going] because some Christian somewhere cared about kids like these.” You can sponsor a warrior here.     Header image credit Ricardo Pomares via Wikimedia Commons.Photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.