Mission News Network

News Worth Listening To
  1. Lebanon (MNN) -- Last year we told you about plans to establish a school in a refugee camp in Lebanon. One year later, Dale Dieleman of Tent Schools International says, even after pressure from within the camp, the school is thriving. “There was [a] setback, but God provided a new location and God is still continuing to work behind the scenes in so many ways over there. So we’re just excited to say, ‘We’re going to be with you and we’re sticking with you as a partner,’” Dieleman said. That’s especially remarkable in an area known for instability. “The director of the project there has mentioned to us that there’s always a chance of things changing before your eyes,” Dieleman said. Originally, Tent Schools International sent funds to Lebanon so a team of local teachers could start a tent school in a refugee camp for Syrian children. Classes would be taught in Arabic and English, and there were initially about 75 students.

    (Photo courtesy of Tent Schools International)

    Soon, some refugees became opposed to the idea when they found out the organization behind the project was Christian. They contacted authorities within the camp who forced the teachers to relocate the physical school to a different part of the camp. However, the school was up and running by January, and a new school year will start again in October. Interest has actually grown, so Dieleman reports that teachers are going to work two shifts to accommodate 100 students in total. Teachers still pray at the beginning of class, sing Christian songs, and are always willing to talk to parents and students alike about the truth of the Gospel. However, they have to be careful not to appear “too pushy” so the local community won’t be offended again, Dieleman said. The entire experience has taught Tent Schools International a new way to build partnerships and approach missions. “To be a real partner walking alongside and saying, ‘How can we help?’ is more than just saying, ‘Oh, here’s some money for a startup,’ and then walking away from it,” Dieleman said. “We really now need to be with them as they continue to develop and expand their program.” Dieleman said in the past when organizations would “partner” with someone, they would be saying, “'We want to bestow something on you.' Now saying, ‘We want to partner with you,’ means we are open to your partnership, your leadership, your advice, and your determination in terms of how best we can come alongside and serve. “It’s just a powerful testimony to people -- particularly the teachers -- who are just staying with it. They are not discouraged. They see this as a growing opportunity.”

    (Photo courtesy of Tent Schools International)

    Want to become a partner and walk alongside these teachers? Dieleman says it’s just a few clicks away. “Tent Schools International has committed to paying the teachers' salaries for the coming year. However, that doesn’t account for some of the other expenses such as rent, heat (because it does get very cold during the winter), electricity, other school supplies, etc.” Tent Schools International is all about doing ministry that focuses on building deeper relationships rather than boasting big numbers and a wide reach. “Let’s really get busy doing the work of God alongside these partners we have already invested in, not just monetarily, but in terms of prayer and in terms of other kinds of support.”
  2. USA (MNN) -- It’s been just over a week since violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia as a result of protests over the removal of a statue of the Confederate general, Robert E. Lee from a city park.

    Going Back to Charlottesville

    (Photo courtesy of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship)

    But despite the chaos that plagued the Virginian town, college students are still preparing to return to Charlottesville for school. And as students mourn and learn to heal along with the rest of the city, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is responding and helping. “You know, there are three areas I think we tend to focus on in terms of a Christian response. And we are seeing this on the ground at UVA as well," InterVarsity's President Tom Linexplains. "The first type of response in prophetic. You know, we need to help our student leaders call people to reject the idolatry of racism. The second is evangelistic, inviting people to repentance in Jesus. And then the third response we want to prepare them for is to have a pastoral response, discipling people towards racial reconciliation, helping walk alongside fellow students who may be struggling.”

    Long-Term Ministry

    For decades, InterVarsity has been dedicated to multi-ethnicity and racial reconciliation on college campuses. In fact, 54 percent of the students InterVarsity works with are non-white. Because of this, the recent events in Charlottesville probably won’t have an effect on InterVarsity’s long-term ministry with college students. In a sense, it may help open some doors for multi-ethnicity and racial reconciliation conversations.

    (Photo courtesy of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship)

    For example, an InterVarsity staff member did a prayer-walk on the same route as the protesters. Other InterVarsity staff and students participated in a prayer vigil in the town. The sight of InterVarsity trying to bring a little bit of calmness to the crazy helped comfort some locals. In fact, InterVarsity received a letter from a non-Christian business leader in Charlottesville who saw people wearing InterVarsity t-shirts throughout the city over the weekend. The business leader was thankful for InterVarsity’s presence amidst the hatred. “I think when non-Christians encounter InterVarsity groups as diverse as ours -- as I said, 54 percent are none-white -- they note it and they say things like, ‘Only Jesus could bring people together across so many differences. How does that happen and how does that work?” Lin shares.

    Starting Conversations

    InterVarsity is also engaging in the conversation of racial reconciliation through books from InterVarsity Press. A few books Lin recommends on the topic include The Myth of Equality; Roadmap to Reconciliation; and then White Awake. InterVarsity does Bible Studies on racial-reconciliation, too.

    (Photo courtesy of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship)

    And because InterVarsity has been effectively engaging with students on the topic, the ministry has been asked by various college faculty, such as a university’s athletic director, to help them in having these kinds of conversations with students and athletes. Not sure where to start with the conversation of racial reconciliation yourself? Well, start with prayer. Lin asks for prayers for college campuses across the country, especially the University of Virginia (UVA). InterVarsity has a chapter on UVA’s campus and will be walking alongside students as they wrestle with the recent happenings in their college town. For more prayer requests, click here!
  3. Philippines (MNN) -- Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has taken a bloody turn.

    (Photo courtesy of Asian Access)

    At least 80 people were killed last week in multiple police raids, including a raid on Tuesday in the Bulacon province that left 32 people dead. It was the single bloodiest day of Duterte’s crackdown on drug users and pushers, his major initiative that began when he was inaugurated as President on June 30th last year. “The useful explanation is that they fought back and so the police just fought back as well, and all of them were killed,” Herman Moldez, the Philippines country director for Asian Access, says. “So this has caused for alarm and this really [got] the whole country again thinking and putting drug war as the center issue. For awhile, it kept quiet because we were so caught up in the war in Marawi. But right now, it’s coming back again.” The crackdown has drawn widespread condemnation from human rights activists. Some estimate that between 10,000-12,000 people have been killed in police raids and apparent vigilante killings. But despite the bloodshed, Duterte’s approval rating is at an all-time high. “When the president started a campaign against drugs, many of the communities used to be a place where so many are using drugs and it became a very unsafe place to be,” Moldez says. “Now they are experiencing some relative peace because of this campaign.” Moldez says the government’s approach, however, is not a long-term or ethical solution. He says the Church is playing an important role addressing the root issue.

    (Photo courtesy of Asian Access)

    “The pastors are doing values formation and...the Church is doing a very strategic ministry to impact society and really help these drug users be restored back in society and be reconnected with God. “The government has been asking really the Church and the pastors to help because the users themselves are saying this is a missing component in the drug rehabilitation. They need to be reconnected with God, and the Church is at the forefront of that.” Asian Access is assisting the Church by providing training for pastors helping drug users find Christ and experience healing. Moldez asks you to pray that God would continue to provide Asian Access with the opportunities and courage to get involved in this situation. He also asks you to pray that God would touch the heart of President Duterte.