News Worth Listening To
International (MNN) -- Summer is just a few months away and TeachBeyond is recruiting for its short-term mission trips: English camps.
Why Teach EnglishThe ministry needs volunteers who are willing to donate some of their time to teach English to people in Brazil, the Philippines, and even parts of Central Asia. While teaching a language may be intimidating, these camps are also an opportunity to share the Gospel. TeachBeyond, through working with national churches, brings together both education and the Great Commission. “English camps are really a perfect way for people to be involved in short-term missions,” TeachBeyond’s Diane Kraines explains. “There is a huge demand for learning English globally; and in many locations, it’s a way for young people to improve their conversational English -- anything from being able to get a better job in the future or improving their English so they can enter a university in an English-speaking country.” Learning English can also be a way to better understand cultures, such as through modern music and the media. Regardless of the reason to why people want to learn the language, Kraines shares, “The people we partner with in the host countries are seeing English language learning as a huge draw for not only young people, but also for adults as well.” TeachBeyond has been helping lead English camps for a few years now. Previously, the ministry held camps in Germany, a place where they had a lot of success. Now, using the model they formed in Germany, TeachBeyond has helped people in Moldova, Portugal, Brazil, the Philippines, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia learn English. “What we do is we recruit teams from local churches who want to bring a team and we are able to train them in team building, spiritual development, working cross-culturally, and also in their individual roles,” Kraines says.
Don't Teach?However, if teaching isn’t really your thing, TeachBeyond needs more than just language teachers. The ministry can also use activity and craft leaders, people to lead worship, and even Bible teachers. So if you’re interested in spending part of your summer teaching English or just volunteering, the deadline to apply for TeachBeyond’s English camps is the end of March. “We’d really love to see some people come on board and join us,” Kraines shares. For a lot of volunteers, it's huge to do cross-cultural ministry in their own language. In fact, for a lot of the people learning English, just having conversations in the language is impactful and gives them an opportunity to practice their new language skills. More so, it’s a chance to build relationships, often times through which the Gospel can be shared. “We create a safe, warm, and loving environment for our campers at each English camp. For many campers, this is their first time in a Christian environment, and they immediately notice the difference of warmth and acceptance. They see how we treat each other, how we love and care for them,” Kraines explains. “In most locations, each staff person is asked to give a testimony of how Jesus has changed their lives. And these testimonies have a huge impact on the lives of the campers.” What better way is there to spend a couple weeks this summer than to teach English and share God’s love for others? To learn more about TeachBeyond’s English camps, click here! To apply to TeachBeyond’s English Camps, click here to apply! TeachBeyond English Camps Deadline: March 31st
East Africa (MNN) – Humanitarian needs from food shortages have tripled in several regions of East Africa since 2015. The United Nations agricultural agency announced this finding in a report last week, along with a warning that this ongoing drought is going to cause food prices in the area to spike very soon. The affected countries include Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania. For example, Somalia’s maize and sorghum crop harvests are already down by at least 75 percent of their average. Kristin Wright, Advocacy Director with Open Doors USA visited Ethiopia last year and witnessed the drought’s devastation. “When we were in the north of the country, we could definitely see firsthand some of the tragedies caused by the famine. You look and it’s completely parched ground, there haven’t been adequate rains, and people are suffering. In fact…in some of the countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya alone, more than 11 million people are in need of food. So it’s a massive, far-reaching tragedy.” Of the countries suffering from drought conditions, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya rank on Open Doors’ World Watch List for persecution of Christians. And in these types of crises, Christians and religious minorities can often fare the worst. “One of [Open Doors’] major initiatives in actually many of these countries, including Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, is to assist Christians with their livelihoods. As a result of persecution, many Christians will lose their jobs or they’re unable to find employment and consequently unable to support their families. As you can imagine, in a drought situation like this, in a situation of famine where hunger is spreading, this is an even more severe situation for those who don’t have employment or aren’t able to support their families already.” Wright explains, “Open Doors works on the ground to provide job training skills, and also we do microloan projects where we help Christians start their own business in their areas so they’re able to stay and be sort of a light in the darkness wherever they’re at.” Open Doors coordinates directly with the local Church in these countries to provide humanitarian and spiritual support. Because the believers in many of these areas may be struggling in terms of material provision along with the rest of the country, it’s a chance to see the global Body of Christ come together in mutual encouragement. “We are bringing the gifts and generosity of the global Church forward in these countries like Somalia, like Ethiopia, and empowering that church on the ground to reach out in their communities…. Last year, when I was in Ethiopia, just seeing how local churches are empowering and helping their communities by starting schools, by providing food distribution, I got to see a lot of things firsthand. But that just goes to show you this crucial role that you and I play in supporting our persecuted brothers and sisters in places like East Africa where the situation is very dire.” Please pray for God to clear the drought and for the local Church to be resilient in service. Wright shares a personal example of why it’s so important to pray without ceasing for even crises like this drought that can drag on. “I will never forget this. I was driving down a road in Southern Ethiopia and they had just received the first rain in months. I saw these two tiny little twin girls on the side of the road, and I have twin nieces so they looked to be about the same age. These girls were just scooping up cups of dirty water on the side of the road to, I assume, bring home to their families. It was just such a moment for me where I recognized [and] saw my own family members in those two girls. I think that anytime we can see our own brothers and sisters, our own family in those who are suffering, it helps us remember why it’s so important not to get fatigued, but to continue to speak out, continue to be a voice and to help those who are suffering.” Click here to learn more about Open Doors' ministry and other ways you can advocate with and for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. Wright says this advocacy and unity in the global Church is what Open Doors is all about. “I always want to encourage people to be a voice. Your gifts, your generosity, your prayers; all of this is so important. But we also want to encourage people to speak out and be a voice and advocate.”
International (MNN) -- When we neglect to share the Gospel with certain groups of people, we’re affirming an ancient and devastating lie that some sins are too great for God to forgive. But Set Free Ministries is working to dispel that lie for a group of people considered society’s "worst of the worst". For a few years now, Set Free Ministries has been ministering in prisons in West Michigan and abroad. It began when Reverend Zuala began reaching out to the prisoners in Mezoram, India. The recidivism and suicide rates went down drastically after just a couple years. You can read more on that story here.
Why PrisonSet Free Ministries states their mission this way -- that they exist to “make disciples of Jesus Christ through biblical counseling, training, and social action. In doing so, [they] equip individuals and churches to bring God’s healing and wholeness to hurting people worldwide.” Nobody denies our world is full of hurting people. However, very few realize a lot of these issues begin in the heart. Instead, we tend to attack human pain at a rational, tangible level. And in missing the real issue, people are left feeling hopeless and frustrated as they search for an answer. The most common example Set Free Ministries encounters is the struggle to forgive. It’s been the root cause of addiction, depression, and more. And yet, they’ve seen these people find freedom from their struggles as they begin to embrace the truth of God’s Word. But the key is, the person has to admit there’s a struggle and that they need help. “You first have to be a captive to be set free,” Dean Vander Mey of Set Free Ministries says. Pete Noor of Set Free says this is why prison ministry is a natural fit for Set Free. These people are well aware there’s a problem. “The beauty of working with inmates is often times they don’t try to hide anything. They’re open and they’re very honest and humility is a huge part of the healing process,” Noor explains. Workers at Set Free have been helping these people realize it’s not the physical prison they need freeing from, but the spiritual captivity of their heart. Vander Mey says, “If you look at what’s going on in prison, in prison these are just men and women who are broken in their relationships. They’re usually very angry. They usually have some addiction issues, and they don’t know where to turn. Well, that’s the best place to meet them.”
Forgiveness sets the prisoners freeAt one prison, Set Free Ministries is working in conjunction with Forgotten Man Ministries to share the Gospel with inmates and teach them from God’s Word in groups called “God Pods.” Just a couple weeks ago, Vander Mey was able to reveal a lie that many of the prisoners he was talking to believed. He says, “I was in a God Pod that had 90 percent child molesters and predators — 90 percent of the guys. So I asked the question, ‘Do you men in this room believe you have committed crimes that are so heinous that God can’t forgive you? Raise your hand if you think that’s true.’ Ninety-five percent of the men raised their hand — that they had committed a crime that God can’t forgive.” There are few people more despised than sex criminals. It’s not hard to see why very few Christians reach out and minister to these people. They are considered beyond hope. But God tells us they are not. Vander Mey shared with them the story of King David and Bathsheba. In this account, David lusts, commits adultery, murders, and lies. After this, Vander Mey read them Psalm 51 — David’s famous Psalm of repentance. Many of the men were hearing for the first time that God is big enough to forgive even them if they repented. Many of them broke down in tears of joy. “Those are the worst of the worst in our prison systems; or at least, they believe that. And God’s grace, it says ‘where sin abounds, my grace abounds all the more.’ We just have to let them know, they’re captives.” Vander Mey says in many of their broken stories, the root problem is their lack of forgiveness. Many of them, he explains, were abused themselves. But those who accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness are enabled to forgive those who’ve wronged them. Something that has been groundbreaking for these inmates is to learn God is actually pursuing them — that He hasn’t given up. Vander Mey says even the fact that they are in prison is God’s mercy — to get their attention, to slow them down, to give them a chance to respond to Him. “They’ve never heard anything like that before. Most of them have broken relationships with their fathers. And when they know that God the Father is pursuing them and trying to get their attention, they are very, very alert.” For Noor and Vander Mey, this ministry is part of God’s commission to make disciples of all nations. If you would like to learn how to get involved, contact Set Free at (616) 726-5400, or visit them online here.