Mission News Network

News Worth Listening To
  1. Israel (MNN) – It’s been just over a week since President Trump announced the US Embassy in Israel would move to Jerusalem, recognizing the disputed city as Israel’s capital. Tom Doyle with Uncharted Ministries and a Middle East advisor for e3 Partners says he was in Jerusalem with his wife on a ministry Bible tour when the announcement was made. “We were doing some ministry with Palestinians and Jewish people in Israel. So we were going to bed, it was late at night and we had to get up for an early flight. But my phone just started going off and people said, ‘President Trump is making the announcement.’ So we turned on the TV and saw some of the Israelis celebrating; we actually saw a big huge electric kind of sign on the wall and at first, it looked like the Western Wall. But it was the Tower of David which was right outside our hotel,” he shares. “So we went down there and just kind of wanted to get a feel for what people were thinking. There was, of course, a celebration of Jewish people in Jerusalem. Obviously, not so much for Palestinians. It was quiet in Bethlehem.” Like the wildly differing reactions to the announcement in Jerusalem, responses to the move have reverberated around the world – both joy and outrage.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the decision by President Trump as a critical move towards peace in the region. But Muslim leaders from 57 countries condemned the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, since Palestine also claims the major city as its capital. Riots in Jerusalem resulted in the arrests of at least 77 Palestinians. “It just underscores the fact that Israel is the place where it’s an intersection of history, the Bible, religion, and politics. They just clash head-on day-after-day. And so we saw it again in full force with the announcement. Even though Israel has pretty much treated Jerusalem as their capital and has their commencement there and major government offices, for the United States to recognize it as the official capital of Israel is a strong statement.” Doyle says the natural assumption is that there will be backlash against Jews in Israel and around the world. And it’s an accurate assumption since Jews have indeed been attacked in the wake of this announcement. “Vastly, around the world, we’re seeing anti-Semitism rise up and people are angry about this.” But, Doyle also points out, people may not realize that Palestinian Christians are actually suffering some of the worst backlash. “Radical Muslim groups like Hamas or Islamic jihad in Gaza see Christians as soft on Israel. So if you’re a Palestinian and you’re living in Gaza…you may disagree with some of the things Israel has done, you may say they retaliate too hard or whatever, but as a Christian you’re not motivated to go out and kill Jews – which that is standard for Hamas, Islamic jihad, some of the groups that are present there…. So our Palestinian workers that we worked with said, ‘Please, pray for us. This will not be easy for us.’” So how can other Christians around the world approach this multi-faceted issue with wisdom and compassion? “We say this at Uncharted: We love both sides. We believe that Israel has a right to exist, that God called them back, he predicted that in the Scriptures, and that legitimately they have been given back this land. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been horribly hard for Palestinians. Many Palestinian believers we work with actually had land that was lost when Israel became a nation. So we just say this: We want to love the Jews. We want to love the Palestinians. God’s heart is big enough to love them both.” Ultimately, Doyle encourages, “The only solution is Jesus. And of course, the listeners of Mission Network News would expect us to say that. But we’re involved with a lot of things in Israel and the Middle East, and none of the peace plans are going to please both sides. They’ll have to give up something, both sides. It’s going to be difficult and really the only one who can bring them together is Jesus. It’s been delightful to work with Jewish believers and Palestinian believers who love each other and who work arm-in-arm. They had barriers between them, but it’s just a great thing to see that the Gospel really solves everything.” When it seems like the problem is primarily a political problem, it’s easy to just focus on a political solution. And political solutions are, indeed, critical. But when the problem is seen primarily as a spiritual problem, we should fervently pray for a spiritual solution. “As believers, we have to elevate above the news, above the politics and realize that the physical war on the ground is just really a reflection of the spiritual war raging in the Heavenlies. That’s what this is about,” says Doyle. “Pray that the Gospel just makes inroads within Israel, within the Palestinian communities. Because ultimately, that’s the solution. Talk about a one-state solution, a two-state solution -- we’re talking about an eternal solution. And this is what’s so important is that people come to faith in Christ on both sides.”
  2. International (MNN) – According to UNICEF, there are about 140 million orphans on our globe today. These are children who have lost one or both of their parents. Around this time of year, vulnerable groups like orphans are often the focus of domestic and international charities. However, Orphan’s Heart is one organization working year-round to help vulnerable children and their families find long-term solutions for the future. Is this something you’re passionate about, too? Do you have a desire to share the love of Jesus with others? Are you a student? Then you might want to consider checking out Orphan’s Heart internship program. Deanna Berkes of Orphan’s Heart says, “We’re looking for young individuals between the ages of 18 and about 29 to travel with us for an extended short-term mission during their summer time. So we have opportunities in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Uganda, and Latvia this year. We’re really excited about that.”

    (Photo and header photo courtesy of Orphan's Heart)

    The internships are about five weeks long. They require more leadership and responsibility than a typical short-term mission trip with Orphan’s Heart. Interns will also be the go-to people for mission trip participants who are there for a shorter period of time. “They do get to do the typical regular duties of helping children and working hand-in-hand with our ministry partners,” Berkes says. “But sometimes there’s a little bit more to kind of add those tools to their tool belt that most people are looking for with an internship.”

    A heart to serve the vulnerable

    If you’re wondering if this internship could be a good fit for you, ask yourself if the following mission is something you are excited about. “Our main goal, obviously, is to further the Kingdom and to share the Gospel in everything we do. We always want to help one more child. That’s Orphan’s Heart and the Florida Baptist’s overall mission is to assist one more child in everything that we do.” What it looks like to assist a child is different depending on where you are. In Guatemala, for instance, you’ll be helping children facing malnutrition. In the Dominican Republic, however, you’ll be involved in community development. The other countries have their own specific focuses, too. “The first step is going to be deciding where you want to go. And once you’ve made that decision and you’ve prayed about it, you’ll fill out your application," Berkes says. With the application, you’ll need three written recommendations and an explanation of why you think an internship with Orphan’s Heart is a good fit for you. Following the application, you’ll go through an interview process and, if found to be a good fit, training. Berkes says it’s truly a great opportunity to make a real difference. “For those who are considering internships—folks ask, ‘Why spend money to travel for such a short period of time when you can give that money and help out more?' But I would say, internships are really about the relationship. ‘Why give?’ we would say. ‘Go!’” Maybe you’re not ready to commit to the internship program just yet. Consider going on a short-term mission trip this summer to see what it’s all about. Berkes says many people who go on these trips have decided to come back for an internship. To learn more, click here. And check back in with us in the new year and we’ll preview some of the trips coming up.
  3. USA (MNN) – On December 7, at Calvary Church, dozens of Christians gathered together for a prayer and worship meeting, held by the Grand Awakening partnered with City Fest, anticipating next year’s City Fest in West Michigan. The festival will be held during September 2018 in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. The purpose of this festival? Revival.

    City Fest Meeting

    Randy Hekman hands the mike off to Bill Brownson during the City Fest Prayer Meeting held at Calvary Church on December 7, 2017. (Photo Courtesy Beth Stolicker)

    The evening focused on a time of worship followed by three individual presentations. After each presentation, tables were given the task to pray based on what was on their hearts, but also relating to the scriptures provided and bullet points given in the following categories of praise, repentance, and supplication. The night began with a brief history of revival and prayer for God to do it again in a presentation given by Randy Hekman.

    Bill Brownson shares a presentation during the City Fest Prayer Meeting held at Calvary Church on December 7, 2017. (Photo Courtesy Beth Stolicker)

    The next presentation came from Dr. Bill Brownson, who has been praying for revival for the past 50 years. He urged attendees to pray the big prayers. But first, Brownson encouraged people to ask for revival in their own hearts. And then, not to stop praying until God answers.

    “When do we pray the huge prayers that are world changing?” Brownson urged from the stage. “Pray for the greatest awakening the USA has ever seen.”

    The night came to a close with Duffy Johnson and Mary Sterenberg presenting prayers for West Michigan. They again urged attendees to continue praying not just for revival, but also for the Church’s unity in West Michigan. And also for all hearts in the region to be prepared for the Gospel when it is shared next September with an entire city.

    Join the Efforts

    “From tonight, it’s my hope that people caught the vision to pray. That we can’t do this by ourselves, God must be with us, He must go before us,” Cornerstone University’s President, Joe Stowell commented.

    A table prays together during the City Fest Prayer Meeting held at Calvary Church on December 7, 2017. (Photo Courtesy Beth Stolicker)

    City Fest wants to revive West Michigan believers and awaken non-believers to the love and truth of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, City Fest planners are hoping to get 10,000 people to commit to praying for revival in West Michigan. “We’re calling on all the followers of Christ in West Michigan to get involved,” Stowell shares. “They don’t even have to be necessarily a volunteer or go to meetings, but you can pray. That’s one thing all of us can do, even those who are shut-ins and those are aren’t mobile, at work at lunch, so we’re just calling everybody to join in this great prayer effort to support the festivals that are to come.”

    Get Involved

    With that said, to make City Fest West Michigan happen, it’s going to take a lot of Christians pitching in.

    Dozens of people going together in prayer during the City Fest Prayer Meeting held at Calvary Church on December 7, 2017. (Photo Courtesy Beth Stolicker)

    “We need hundreds of volunteers to make this a success,” Stowell explains. “So I would recommend you go to the website. On the website there all kinds of possibilities for you to get involved in committees, activities, and neighborhood works.” And since City Fest planners are eager to have 10,000 people praying for revival, will you commit to prayer? For now, start with praying for revival. Please also pray for the upcoming Pastors Prayer Summit, which will be taking place at Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference Center on January 15-16, 2018. The summit is meant to be a time set aside for pastors to spend in God’s presence, in the spirit of unity, and for them to come together as one body in Christ. Pray for the spiritual encouragement of the pastors attending, the unity of the body of Christ, and for Christ’s continued work in West Michigan. Learn more about City Fest West Michigan and how to get involved here! To register for the Pastors Prayer Summit, click here!