News Worth Listening To
China (MNN) -- If you want to get Bibles to local believers in China, don’t bother smuggling them in. Roger Weaver of Bibles for China says many Christians are still surprised at how open China is to ministry. “Most people have that impression that China’s still closed to Christianity, that anything to do with Bible distribution has been shut out years back,” he said. "In truth, that has changed to where the Chinese government now has allowed groups like Bibles for China to come in and legally and openly distribute Bibles to the Christians in the country.” Weaver said he estimates there are almost 100 million Christians in the registered Church in China, and it’s the mission of Bibles for China to make sure they all have access to Scripture. “We’re trying to fill that void that has opened up with the Chinese government basically sponsoring and setting this thing up, and there’s never any threat that our program will be shut down because we are working under an arm of the Chinese government.” That’s especially good news for a project this large. Even if believers have access to a Bible, it’s usually well-used until “the pages are all tattered and torn and the cover had already fallen off so they’re writing out Scripture to try and pass those around.” And the demand is high as God moves Chinese men and women to seek after Him. “With 20,000 new believers coming to Christ in China every day, you can see the vast need to try to get Bibles into their hands,” Weaver said. Bibles for China provides copies of Scripture and manages distribution across the country, but focuses on rural areas and villages. Want to join a trip? You have 11 chances next year as groups leave for China on an almost monthly basis. “In a lot of places around the world we have so many copies of the Bible laying around and when we’re holding one we just don’t get that excitement or that thrill knowing that this is actually the Word of God,” said Weaver. But it’s not just about distributing Bibles. “There is such a huge need over there with the vast number of new Christians who are coming into their churches to have the new leaders to mold them and shape them.” That’s why organizations like Bibles for China need your prayer. Though most of the country allows Scripture distribution, “There are provinces that are still closed to outside people and to sharing the Bible.” Consider giving and going, but most importantly, pray. “The more you’re faithful and show your willingness to take the steps into these areas, the more fruit will come from it."
Philippines (MNN) -- The Filipino military declared a brief ceasefire Sunday, allowing Muslims to peacefully celebrate the end of Ramadan. The lull in the fighting also allowed for the rescue of six civilians trapped in the city of Marawi. Government forces are forging progress toward peace, but it’s slow-going. Earlier last week, about 200 suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) took hostages and holed up for hours inside a school, then took five civilians with them after fleeing. Some say the attack could be a diversion for the Islamic State to gain more ground in Marawi. “That is a common perception because the BIFF is sympathetic to the radical group,” says Herman Moldez with Asian Access, an organization that trains and equips Christian leaders throughout Asia. “In fact, there had been some effort for reinforcement coming from Salou and these areas, and so one of the reasons for the declaration of martial [law] of the entire [island of] Mindanao is for the military to be able to respond quickly and not to complicate the whole matter in Marawi City.” Moldez recently visited Zamboanga City on the island of Mindanao. He says that for the most part, violence isn’t affecting Christians or impeding their efforts in spreading the Gospel. “It’s very, very safe. Christian communities are very safe. [The violence] is only in Marawi City, really,” Moldez says. “They feel safe because the military is just there to protect and to monitor people coming in and going out. “It’s not interfering, because they are minorities, and they’re up on the mountains. So we are not yet feeling or experiencing what ISIS is doing in other countries.” They may be safe for now, but Moldez says it would be unwise for Christians to let down their guard. “The previous government tended to deny the presence of the ISIS in the Philippines, but it’s beginning to come out that they have been operating for quite a while and have gained influence, especially through some of the young people,” Moldez says. “So pray for vigilance. That’s our prayer, that not only the Christian community, but even the Muslim community, will continue to be vigilant. I think the majority of the Muslim communities want to have the peace process with the government to be established.” Can you come alongside this country with your prayers? Moldez asks that you pray that situations like the BIFF school attack would not be repeated and the government would respond quickly to violence. Pray also for safety and quick recovery for those affected by the violence.
DRC (MNN) -- You may not have heard about it in the mainstream media, but in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, political corruption and ethnic violence have spawned a crisis. In less than a year,more than 3,000 people in the Kasai region have been killed and over one million displaced. The Kasai region is one of the Congo’s poorest and most remote provinces. Ulrika Blom, the Congo country director at the Norwegian Refugee Council, was quoted by Newsweek as saying that “a woefully inadequate number of aid agencies" are on the ground and a "pitiful amount of money” has been pledged to help with the crisis. The lack of accessibility and threat of danger also prevent many journalists from reporting the events. Over the past couple of decades, the Congo has been in an almost perpetual civil war. Much of it stems from the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 when millions of refugees spilled into the Congo. “It’s one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the entire world,” says Greg Kelley of World Mission, an organization that brings God’s Word in an audio format to unreached people. “In Africa, and Congo’s no exception, the root of so much of the conflict and the lack of leadership is ethnic violence targeting one another, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing over these last three or four months. “We have learned that back in October 2016, when it seems to be sort of the ground zero of when this started, there was a local chief that was killed, and that really kind of spawned a lot of the aftermath of the violence and retaliation.” Compounding the problem is the unwillingness of President Joseph Kabila to relinquish power. He continues to delay elections, which were supposed to be held last fall. “Congo is one of the richest countries, not only in Africa, but the world,” Kelley says. “They have everything -- gold, diamonds, oil -- it’s all in Congo. And if the country could just stabilize and experience peace, they could be an incredibly wealthy nation.” Behind the political conflict lies the root issues of greed and a thirst for power. That’s why World Mission is sending hundreds of its solar-powered audio Bibles, called the Treasure, to give people the hope of the Gospel and help foster unity. “The sad part of this story, and I don’t think it’s covered, is when you look at Congo as a nation, it’s over 90 percent Christian. So that’s really unfortunate when you see the Church being so established there,” Kelley says. Congo will become the most populous Christian country in all of Africa within the next 20 years. “So when you have that dynamic there, it’s unfortunate, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity for the Body of Christ to really respond to this and establish itself that this is no longer acceptable.” So how can the average person help ease such an immense conflict? Kelley says it’s important for people to educate themselves on what exactly is happening within the country. “Jesus didn’t call us to evangelize or make disciples of Congo, per se. He said to make disciples of nations,” Kelley says. “And inside of Congo, there are literally more than 200 nations. So I think a starting point for the average Christian is to understand, ‘Okay, what is a nation inside of Congo?’ And they can go to the Joshua Project or other locations to learn about that, so they can really pray with intentionality.” You can also give financially to organizations like World Mission. Click here to learn how you can help put the Treasure into the hands of those who need it. Finally, recognize what’s at stake. “This has been a perpetual, ongoing situation in Congo,” Kelley says. “And we need to recognize that at the end of the day it’s a heart issue. This is not about anything other than the sinful condition of people, and until the heart changes, conditions in places like Congo are going to be ruled by power and corruption and greed. So we just need to really pray that the heart of the people changes.”