Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Flooding, Landslides Hit Vast Area of Burma

Flooding, Landslides Hit Vast Area of Burma

August 20, 2015
A town welcome sign in Sagaing Region is submerged beneath floodwater.
Many villagers in Burma are still afloat in boats ferrying vital supplies for survival amid floodwaters, while others are returning to homes and fields sealed in mud.
The recent flooding has caused damage across a wider area than 2008's Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 140,000 people and is regarded as the worst natural disaster in Burma's recorded history.
"Despite Cyclone Nargis being the worse disaster ever in the nation, it was a localized event in that it only affected the Irrawaddy Delta," said the native director of a ministry based in Burma, David (surname withheld for security reasons). "There is a different face to this flood in that it is spread out almost across the entire western half of the nation. It covers three of the four regions known as the 'rice bowl' of Myanmar."
Unlike Nargis, the flood from rains beginning in July has been gradual, giving residents time to escape, he said. At least 103 people have died.
"There are surprisingly low casualties, but huge damage to farmland and animals and properties," he said.
More monsoon rains are expected, and landslides continue to cut transportation routes and crush homes. Familiar with the submerged terrain and its inhabitants, indigenous missionaries sharing in their pain are in prime position to help.
"Many of the worst affected regions are where we have worked for the past nine years," David said. "I know the region well, and several of the churches planted are in those areas. In one of our sister congregations, we have 28 families who lost their home either in part or whole."
Heavy monsoon downpours began swelling rivers and creeks in Burma on July 16. A storm system in the Indian Ocean on July 30 was upgraded to a cyclone – a hurricane in the northern Indian Ocean – and dubbed Komen. Cyclone Komen tore into Burma the first week of August. Some 1.2 million acres of rice fields were destroyed as flooding hit all but two of Burma's 14 states and reportedly destroyed at least 17,000 homes. So far flooding has "critically affected" more than 1 million people, according to the United Nations, which in 2008 said Cyclone Nargis had "severely affected" 1.5 million people.
International aid is trickling in, with local organizations doing most of the distribution. Indigenous ministries Christian Aid Mission assists are bringing food, clothing and purified water to people stranded in Rakhine, Chin and other states, said the native director of one group, George (surname withheld for security reasons).
"They got a little help from churches and other organizations, but that aid is very small for them because their need is so big," he said. "Pray also for rebuilding of their families, houses and for their children's education as well."
As farmers have lost rice paddies, livestock, homes and family members, the needs are overwhelming, he said.
"Every day, there is need to give out rice and other food for 822 people affected by the flood at Kanan village, Tamu township, Sagaing Region," he said. "Likewise, in other villages there are a lot of people who are still helpless. In areas of Kalay there are a lot of things to do; also Rakhine state, Matupi township in Chin state and other places really need help."
A non-stop downpour struck Kanan village from July 26 to Aug. 1, causing the Kanan River to overflow and destroy 313 houses. George said floodwaters carried away 103 of those houses and left another 210 ruined in the mud.
"During those days and nights," one of the victims told George, "we were very busy struggling to carry and move our properties and belongings, and some of them were crying, afraid – they could not say anything."
Among the indigenous missionaries in Burma eager to provide flood relief to their predominantly Buddhist countrymen are some who have lost their own property.
"Our missionaries also have problems from the flood in their areas, along with their people," George said. "They often call us by telephone for help."
Besides providing food and clothes, the ministry plans to help families rebuild their homes. Flooding destroyed all houses in Laibung village – 40 houses from rising waters, with another six going down in landslides, he said. The deluge also destroyed a church building. Residents fled to Chin state near Tedim, George said, where they are in dire need.
"We are doing what we can do to help the victims," he said. "We also want to help people in Hakha, Chin state, who are still suffering from a big earthquake [three weeks prior]. Many houses collapsed, and many people need to move to other places. They need food, water, clothes and blankets."
At least 17,000 homes have been destroyed in the disaster.
David said his group visited victims in the Magway area on the banks of the flooded Irrawaddy River in central Burma, where his ministry has planted churches and drilled more than 300 wells. With the aid of a local house church, the ministry was able to buy bags of rice and other supplies and deliver them without problem, he said. In addition, a nurse from its ministry center in Yangon accompanied the ministry team and treated about 150 people with medicines that were locally donated or purchased.
Declaring Chin state and three other areas disaster zones, the government has appealed for international aid.
There were reports of Christians being denied aid, David said, when local hard-line Buddhist leaders took charge of aid donations from large cities. A ministry worker identified as Naw said that every time he went to a donations center to gather relief items, village leaders told him they had run out.
"But then I soon found out people who came after me were walking home with large bags full of relief items," Naw said. "I thought I was alone until I shared this at the prayer meeting, and almost all of us had a similar experience. We saw why we were often turned away with empty hands or half our share. We also know our local leader is against us worshiping Jesus. He has been trying to give us trouble, so this does not come as a surprise to us."
The Christian ministries, by contrast, see an opportunity to serve their Buddhist countrymen with aid and the saving message of Christ. David said the disaster is allowing relationship bridges to be built in the 80-percent Buddhist country.
"In one village, I was able to meet with the villagers and discuss how we could come alongside them in their fight for survival," David said. "This was a Buddhist village, with no single Christian in their midst."
George asked for help to meet both physical and spiritual needs.
"Please pray with us to be able to help them know the true God and the gospel through our good deeds, and to show them the love of God as well," he said. "As Jesus said, 'You are the light of the world.' Yes, we have to show the light from Jesus to the victims."
To help indigenous missionaries meet needs, you may contribute online using the form below, or call 434-977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 715DIS. Thank you!

Waters of Death and Life

People displaced by floodwaters from Cyclone Komen in Burma (also called Myanmar) secure life-saving provisions of rice and drinking water aboard boats. High needs for relief remain, and rebuilding and recovery will require more assistance in the face of continuing landslides and forecasts of more rains. International media and aid agencies are unaware of needs in many remote areas, the ministry director of a Burma-based ministry said. "The flood and the landslides are still going on," he said. "Thousands of houses and paddy fields have been destroyed. The government, Non-Governmental Organizations and other volunteer teams are also doing the relief activities, but there are many suffering people who are neglected and have not received any relief."

Satan's Domain: The Realm of Darkness

Satan's Domain:
The Realm of Darkness

(En Español)
Many Christians debate whether the devil is on the earth or in hell; can he dwell in Christians or only in the world? The fact is, the devil is in darkness. Wherever there is spiritual darkness, there the devil will be.
Preparing for Spiritual Warfare
For most, the term spiritual warfare introduces a new but not necessarily welcomed dimension in their Christian experience. The thought of facing evil spirits in battle is an unsettling concept, especially since we came to Jesus as lost sheep, not warriors. Ultimately, some of us may never actually initiate spiritual warfare, but all of us must face the fact that the devil has initiated warfare against us. Therefore, it is essential to our basic well-being that we discern the areas of our nature which are unguarded and open to satanic assault.
Jude tells us, "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day"
(Jude 1:6).
When Satan rebelled against God, he was placed under eternal judgment in what the Bible calls "pits" (2 Pet. 2:4) or "bonds" of darkness. The devil and the fallen angels with him have been relegated to live in darkness. This darkness does not simply refer to areas void of visible light. The eternal darkness to which this Scripture refers is essentially a moral darkness, which ultimately degrades into literal darkness. However, its cause is not simply the absence of light; it is the absence of God, who is light.
It is vital to recognize that this darkness to which Satan has been banished is not limited to areas outside of humanity. Unlike those who do not know Jesus, however, we have been delivered out of the domain or "authority" of darkness (see Colossians 1:13). We are not trapped in darkness if we have been born of light. But if we tolerate darkness through tolerance of sin, we leave ourselves vulnerable to satanic assault. For wherever there is willful disobedience to the Word of God, there is spiritual darkness and the potential for demonic activity.
Thus Jesus warned, "Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness" (Luke 11:35 KJV). There is a light in you. "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord" (Prov. 20:27). Your spirit, illuminated by the Spirit of Christ, becomes the "lamp of the Lord" through which He searches your heart. There is indeed a holy radiance surrounding a true Spirit-filled Christian. But when you harbor sin, the "light which is in thee" is "darkness." Satan has a legal access, given to him by God, to dwell in the domain of darkness. Thus, we must grasp this point: The devil can traffic in any area of darkness, even the darkness that still exists in a Christian's heart.
~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, The Three Battlegrounds, available at www.arrowbookstore.com.
~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Perhaps its your time to take the In Christ's Image Training.
See www.icitc.org for more information.
~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Save up to 35% on these selected products
Limited time offer

The Three Battlegrounds
Any time the Spirit of God's kingdom is truly manifested in the earth, it will ultimately confront the strongholds of hell. Indeed, wherever evil spirits have either a foothold or a stronghold, you can expect that the overcoming church will be engaged in warfare, and expect also that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church that Jesus builds.
In this book, Francis Frangipane explores the three arenas of spiritual warfare that the maturing Christian will face: the mind, the church and the heavenly places. It provides a foundation of insight, wisdom and discernment on the nature of the battle and the keys to victory.
Book - $9.34 (Retail $12.45)
Ebook - $9.34 (Retail $12.45) 
~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
This Day We Fight!
This book is anointed to help the reader get their fire back. The Holy Spirit is ready to impart a fresh anointing to God's people - an anointing that will activate the "war mode" in the church. Published by Chosen Books.
View Francis introducing this book
Book $11.25 (Retail $15.00)

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Both books - $19.21
(Retail $27.45)

~ ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
More Important Specials

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Don’t Waste Death

Don’t Waste Death

“My cousin’s death reminded me of a hard truth: Death shouldn’t be wasted.”
For a while, I’ve dreaded the inevitable—that time when a family member calls with bad news. It happened last Saturday. I missed the first call from mom, but when she called back immediately, I feared it was trouble. “What’s wrong?”
Honestly, I expected the call to be about one of the senior members of our family. But this caught me totally off guard. It was my 28-year-old cousin. He was killed in a car accident. This Saturday, we’re burying DeAndre—a father, brother, uncle and cousin. He will be greatly missed.
Death hurts. Even though we know, if Christ tarries, we will die one day, we avoid thinking about it. This is especially true for teens and young adults. We feel invincible and take life for granted. Which is why we need to be cautioned about trying to move past tragedies involving death too quickly. We need to process death and ponder eternity.
My cousin’s death reminded me of a hard truth: Death shouldn’t be wasted.

Death Is a Cruel Teacher

When death comes knocking, we’re tempted to suppress the pain. We numb the pain with drugs, sex, entertainment and alcohol. But when the smoke clears and the buzz fades, the fact remains that we’ve lost someone we dearly care about, and we can’t escape this sobering reality.
We can’t ignore death’s implications for our own life. Death is a cruel teacher, but a teacher nonetheless. Satan would rather we not contemplate death. If our minds think about eternal things, it’s less likely we will waste the temporal. If we pause to contemplate what the death of another means for us, we’re faced with questions like: “How long will I live?” “What happens after we die?” “Is there a heaven, and if so, am I going?” “Does God really exist? If so, is he pleased with me?”
We avoid these questions by making up stories about what we want to be true. We trust what we’ve heard from a parent or childhood preacher, or what we feel in our hearts should be true. “I’m a good person.” “I walked down the aisle and prayed a prayer.” “I go to church when I can.” These thoughts provide a false security. Only in Scripture can we find real assurance about our eternal destiny. When we reflect on death absent of Scripture, we’re left with clichés, anecdotes and false hope.

Answers to Death’s Questions

As we pause to ponder death, we must turn to the Scriptures for answers to questions that death poses. The Bibles teaches:
  • Only foolish, corrupt people believe there is no God. (Psalm 14:1)
  • We should not fear those who can kill the body, but the one who can throw body and soul into hell. (Matthew 10:28)
  • Everyone will die and face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
  • If our names aren’t in the book of life, we will be thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
  • The only thing that sin produces is death, but God has offered the free gift of life through Jesus. (Romans 6:23)
  • On judgment day, many will approach Jesus with false security. (Matthew 7:21–23)
  • Those who practice sin will not inherit the kingdom of God, but will suffer eternal damnation. (Galatians 5:19–21)
  • Those who are thrown into the lake of fire will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the Lord and his glory. (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
  • Those who trust in Christ have no need to fear death. (John 14:1–3; 2 Corinthians 5:6–8)
  • The Christian’s citizenship is in heaven, and Christ will transform us after this life to be like him. (Philippians 3:20–21)
  • Those who die in the Lord are blessed. (Revelation 14:13)
Millions of people base their eternal destination on false hopes. We gamble with our souls, even though Christ offers us surety. The Scriptures paint a vivid picture of how we are saved. We’re not saved because we’re good people. We’re saved by grace (God’s unmerited favor) through faith (our trust and reliance) in Christ, which is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). We can’t do anything to earn this gift, which is why we can’t boast about being good people.
Charles Spurgeon warned, “Any kind of faith in Christ which does not change your life is the faith of devils, and will take you where devils are, but will never take you to heaven.” It does us no eternal good to base our eternal security on anything short of true conversion. It’s a costly mistake that we will spend eternity paying for.

Jesus, Our Death Slayer

The Christian life is full of repenting of sin and trusting solely in the gospel of Christ, against money, sex, power and other earthly comforts. Christ paid the ultimate price on the cross by paying for all the bad that Christians will ever think, feel, and do. Christ was punished for our evil, and we were rewarded for his perfect life. If we want to escape eternal death, we must become true disciples of Jesus.
When death comes knocking, don’t waste it. Ponder its implications and allow your heart to long for the time and place when all wrongs will be made right. The true Christian longs to be with Jesus. Christ has defeated death, and he’s able to comfort us in the pain. Cry out to Jesus—our death slayer.
When death strikes, don’t waste it. You will only find true rest when you rest in Jesus.  

Phillip Holmes (@PhillipMHolmes) is an itinerant preacher, co-founder and Vice President of the Reformed African American Network (RAAN) and co-host of Pass The Mic, RAAN’s official podcast. You can find more content by him at his personal site, Highest Good. He resides in Houston and is engaged to Jasmine Baucham. More from Phillip Holmes or visit Phillip at http://www.desiringgod.org

Traumatized Yazidis Find Healing, Salvation in Christ

Traumatized Yazidis Find Healing, Salvation in Christ

August 06, 2015
Displaced people in Iraq receive aid from a Christian ministry.
As the world began to see the degree of savagery unleashed on Yazidis, Christians and other groups in Iraq a year ago this week, few could imagine what part it would play in hundreds of people putting their faith in Christ.
On Aug. 3, 2014 the Islamic State (ISIS) began slaughtering defenseless civilians in northern Iraq's Nineveh Governorate, and the militants abducted many others. The bloodshed went on for several days. Having taken Mosul on June 10 last year, ISIS went west to attack Nineveh Governorate's Sinjar and Tal Afar districts, massacring 500 Yazidi men and abducing hundreds of men, women and children.
"For months, Yazidis trapped on Mt. Sinjar faced imminent death either at the hands of ISIS or through starvation," the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in a statement this week. "At least 200,000 civilians, most of them Yazidis, were forced to flee for their lives."
With beliefs and rituals rooted in Zoroastrianism, mixed with elements of Christianity and Islam, Yazidis dwelled in the high-altitude Sinjar Mountain range stretching from Iraq's Nineveh Governorate to Syria. Many fled to Erbil and Dohuk, enabling Christian ministries aiding refugees in those areas to reach a people group that previously had been inaccessible.
One Yazidi religious leader, whose name is withheld for security reasons, was suspicious of a ministry that provided aid to Yazidis along with the message of salvation through faith in Christ, the Iraqi director of the organization said.
"He didn't like us helping people or entering their homes to evangelize, and he reported us to the local security police to stop our operations in the area he lives in," said the director, whose name is withheld for security purposes. "We were asked by the local police to stop, and we did."
Soon after, the Yazidi leader fell ill. His fellow Yazidis told him that many of them who had gotten sick had been healed after Christians came to pray for them.
"He asked for us to pray for him, and we did, and the Lord healed him the same week, after he thought he was dying," the director said. "The last time we were there, he was standing surrounded by all his followers and telling everyone about how Jesus healed him, and after I gave a speech to the group and did an invitation to Christ, we counted 136 people who surrendered their lives to Christ."
With assistance from Christian Aid Mission, the indigenous ministry in Iraq this year began visiting sick refugees with a large van equipped as a mobile medical clinic. Three volunteer doctors, five volunteer nurses, five church members, one psychologist and one dentist have served 2,500 refugees – about 50 to 80 per day.
Another refugee from the Yazidi community was on the verge of death due to lack of medicine for his diabetes, the ministry director said. The mobile medical van personnel found him just in time.
"We provided insulin for him, which made his condition completely stable, and after we presented Christ to him, he expressed great interest and accepted the Lord Jesus," he said.
The Yazidi's wife, daughters and their husbands also put their faith in Christ, he added.
"It was not that easy, because he had to face the big challenges of the family and the Yazidi clergy, but this person expressed his faith and was bold about it," he said.
Other Yazidi leaders have objected to the evangelization efforts, calling it an exploitation of aid for desperate refugees. While Christian workers endeavor to bring holistic healing to Yazidis, both physical and spiritual, in June a Yazidi member of the Kurdish parliament, Vian Dakhil, complained that Christians were exploiting refugees' trauma by providing Bibles and tracts along with aid, according to a report by Voice of America (VOA).
Some Yazidi leaders have also accused foreign missionaries of offering cash or promising easier access to visas to the West as inducements to convert, according to the VOA report.
While religious and political leaders have felt threatened by Christianity since its inception, Christian Aid Mission's Middle East director said the Yazidi leaders' complaints overreach, and that the ministries cannot be blamed for exploitation.
"Christian ministries in Iraq exploit Yazidis in the same way that firemen exploit people in burning buildings," he said. "If we want to place blame for Yazidis turning to Christ, I think we can blame the Holy Spirit. God's Spirit is giving them an interest – the Yazidis are asking for New Testaments and the gospel. These are not being forced on them."
Most established Christian assistance groups and churches in northern Iraq have conducted themselves ethically with regard to the displaced people, stated an official in the Kurdistan region's office of Christian affairs, according to VOA. The news agency cited some problems from newer, "upstart" agencies.
A van equipped as a mobile medical clinic serves a mother and child.
The ministry that Christian Aid assists has long worked in the region. The July 21 VOA story mistakenly cited Christian Aid as the ministry working among the refugees, and two other errors gave the impression that more Yazidis had become Christians than is the case. Missions Insider reported on Feb. 5 that of those who have come to Christ through one ministry's outreach in Erbil and Dohuk, 70 percent were Yazidis; by deleting one word from what was supposed to be a direct quote, VOA not only overstated that 70 percent of Yazidi refugees had come to Christ through the one ministry but rendered the quote ungrammatical.
Secondly, besides again confusing Christian Aid with the ministry it assists, VOA gave the impression that 80 Yazidi families converted, whereas Missions Insider reported that 80 families among all displaced peoples, not just Yazidis, had converted.
ISIS attacks have displaced Yazidis, Muslims who do not pledge allegiance to the ISIS caliphate, Kurds and, lately, people who have fled Al Anbar Province, the ministry director said. Among Muslims, nine of every10 the ministry encounters will listen with interest, he said.
"In one way or another," he said, "we have served about 35,000 people with food and clothes, blankets and heaters, the mobile medical clinic, one-to-one evangelism, speaking to a group of people, praying with them, giving them Bibles and literature or inviting them to church."
To help indigenous missionaries meet needs, you may contribute online using the form below, or call 434-977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 444SHM. Thank you!

Housing Relief

After months in makeshift housing, relatives who fled violence in Iraq at last moved into apartment with electricity and running water when a ministry based in Iraq refurbished and furnished and paid rent for them. It is a first step toward helping family heads to find jobs so they can take over rent payments. The ministry seeks to provide more than 40 apartments or houses, each unit accommodating either one large family of eight or more or two “relatively close” families. “We pay the rent for these families, some of them for one year and the others for six months, depending on their health,” the ministry director said. “The Internally Displaced People’s need for these units is great and urgent – we are planning for 40, but still we have hundreds of people who need shelters.”