Friday, May 27, 2016

Refugee Life Takes Psychological Toll

Refugee Life Takes Psychological Toll

May 26, 2016
 Syrian refugee heading to makeshift tent.
The landscape for Middle Eastern war refugees is dank and dark.
After five years of warfare in Syria, restless refugees with children who have gone years without school are sapped of hope – the very thing indigenous missionaries offer.
Ministry workers in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria note that people displaced by war in Syria, some of them highly educated, cannot find steady work or are underemployed at best. Many refugees have lost husbands or wives; one native Christian leader in Turkey estimated 25 percent of refugees are widowed.
"Widows cannot work even if they find a job, because they have nowhere safe to leave their children," he said. "There are also many orphaned children."
Rebel forces backed by the United States are fighting to unseat Russian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a conflict with no end in sight. Caught in the cross-fire and trying to evade atrocities of Islamic extremist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Nusra, the refugees have suffered the loss of their homes, livelihood and loved ones. At makeshift refugee camps outside Adana, Turkey, they are far from jobs in the city, and farm labor is irregular and grueling.
 Syrian refugees in Lebanon benefit from critical supplies.
Syrian refugees in Lebanon benefit from critical supplies.
"If they are fortunate enough to find a job, they work more than 12 hours a day, and they work under very harsh conditions," the director of a ministry based in Turkey said. "If they are lucky, they can get paid $10 a day for 12 hours of work. Many of them wake very early in the morning to stand in the human market, hoping to get work as a coolie or in construction. Most of the women and children beg at traffic lights."
With limited financial resources, the ministry faces the daunting challenge of providing most of their daily needs for baby formula, diapers, medical care, clean water, shoes, clothes, mattresses and the Word of God, he said.
"We can see on their faces that there is no hope," he said. "But whoever hears the Word of God has hope in their life. We tell the people that the Lord Jesus will never leave you alone; He will never turn His face from you. Whoever accepts Jesus has hope."
Most of the more than 2.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey do not enjoy the benefits of the government's official camps. At the makeshift camps outside Adana, indigenous ministry workers can see on refugee faces that there is no hope, he said.
"Our daily goal is to provide their basic needs to survive – when we can provide for these needs, they do not have to worry about their kids, so they will have time to think about the Word of God," the ministry director said. "Our weekly goals are to preach the gospel and explain the Word of God."
In Jordan, where registered Syrian refugees number more than 651,000 and the total Syrian population tops 1.3 million, it was illegal for them to work until the government recently allowed them to take jobs in agriculture, construction and basic services. Jordan also plans to establish industrial zones employing Syrians to produce goods for export to Europe under an agreement with the European Union. An indigenous ministry leader said they long for jobs.
"It's a different feeling when a man comes home and he has some food in his hand, some bread for his children, chocolate or chips – that feeling is missing; their life has changed with this new status," he said. "They say, 'We're like prisoners. We want to feel like we're human. We'll work at whatever we can get.'"
It is still difficult for Syrians to find work in Jordan, which has 14 percent unemployment (30 percent among youth), and the indigenous ministry plans to help churches establish cottage businesses on their premises marketing consumer items such as women's scarves – and employ Syrian refugees to help produce and sell them.
The dignity of work would help heal their traumatized souls, which would complement the counseling that indigenous ministry workers provide, he said. Refugees tend to store feelings inside that they're not even aware they're concealing, the ministry leader said. One day something may trigger release of the pent-up trauma, and they won't know why they feel no control over what is happening to them psychologically, he said.
Though the ministry is short on trained counselors, ministry workers do what they can to address refugees' emotional wounds, he said. The ministry offers individual counseling, group therapy, music therapy and play therapy at available venues but seeks a central facility for such services.
"It's especially important for children," he said. "It's heart breaking – there's bedwetting, nightmares. One of the important things is to have a center for them and have some game therapy and play therapy. The family can bring them and have counseling as the kids play."
In spite of dire prospects for peace, most Syrian refugees do not want to talk of the impossibility of returning to their country one day, he said.
"They still have hope to go back," he said. "Some people are still thinking, 'Maybe tomorrow I'll be back, maybe next week.' They're not realistic. They're upside down. When we tell them the Good News in Arabic, they get new breath, new hope. That's why they keep calling, wanting us to come and visit and talk with them about Jesus. They say, 'There's peace when you visit us. We feel peace and hope when we hear your stories.'"
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: 400REF. Thank you!

Refuge from a Nightmare

A displaced Iraqi Christian and his son celebrate life after a worship service at a center in Erbil, northern Iraq.
A displaced Iraqi Christian and his son celebrate life after a worship service at a center in Erbil, northern Iraq, where they took refuge from the death encompassing much of the rest of the country. Sectarian violence along with a jihadist campaign by the Islamic State (ISIS) has rendered many parts of Iraq a nightmare for Christians, and a ministry based in the country is meeting physical and emotional needs. “In general there is a spirit of sadness and frustration because of the loss of everything, and there is not a glimmer of hope to return to their homes in the near future,” the ministry director said. “Many of us meet with people who went through catastrophic conditions such as loss of children, mothers, sisters and parents, and some of them saw with their own eyes the death of loved ones in brutal ways.” Besides providing food and medicines, ministry workers listen to the displaced people’s stories as a way of counseling them. “With the personal needs of refugees, it’s very important to help them with everyday challenges, especially if they had children or special needs, but from our point of view, the first need of people is Christ no matter who they are and in what situation,” the director said.

Christian women and children arrested for terrorism, seek justice!

Christian women and children arrested for terrorism, seek justice!

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
PAKISTAN (ANS – May 26, 2016) -- Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism (amendment) Act 2013 was introduced ostensibly to help bolster and empower government agencies, equipping them to crack down on terrorism financing or as stated “strengthen the provision concerning the offences of terrorism financing and to provide more effective enforcement measures against such offences.”
Pakistan protestsSo said the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), who went on to say, “The Anti- Terrorism (amendment) Act 2013 also amends the definition of terrorism under section 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, by including threats and acts of terrorism against a ‘foreign government or population or an international organization.’
“The Anti-Terrorism (Second Amendment) Act 2013, further expands the definition of terrorism under section 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Its definition, “the threat of terrorism” now includes “intimidating and terrorizing the public, social sectors, business community, security forces, Government installations, officials and law enforcement agencies.
“The bill also provides for preventative or pre-charge detention of 90 days for persons reasonably suspected of being involved with terrorism. The detention cannot be challenged in any court, and the detainee cannot ask “for release on bail or file a petition for habeas corpus (a hearing on whether custody is legal or not) in any court of law.”
A spokesperson for the London-based group said that when these laws were introduced many Pakistani Christians believed that the existence of these laws hailed an era of better protection from the whims of extremists, but in fact the laws have failed to curb three bomb attacks in the space of three years since the implementation of the laws.
“Sadly, this is not the lowest point in the fiasco that has undermined these laws. In fact, the laws are now being used to suppress minority Christians in a way no-one could have perceived, when the laws were initially promoted as a pivot in the battle against extremism,” added the BPCA spokesperson.
It then cited an incident that took place on May 19, 2016, when, on hearing loud screaming and wailing outside Christian Life Ministries Church, located at the Christian Town, Faisalabad, parishioners rushed out to the aid of two men who were being savagely beaten by local policemen. Police officers were viciously using the infamous “lathi” (large wooden truncheon) to torture the two Christian men.
Entrace to Pakistan churchPolice officers reported that they arrested the men for “undertaking wheelies” on the road, while the two men said this was not true and allege that they intervened when the police officers “ogled and harassed women” entering the church for Thursday evening prayers.
BPCA said that when the parishioners and Pastor Kamal Chaugtai, a former elected Member of Punjab Assembly (MPA), came out to offer assistance, they provided a human shield preventing the violent onslaught of the Christian men being targeted.
“The kind gesture by the church unnerved the police officers, who felt threatened. In response the policemen shot indiscriminately in the air and in doing so one of the officers was injured,” said the spokesperson.
“Despite the absence of weapons amongst the parishioners the policemen called in reinforcements citing a terrorist act. Pastor Kamal, and many others, were arrested and placed in a prison cell where they languished all night.
“Christian men have allegedly been subjected to inhumane torture at the hands of the local police, including having been hung by their ankles and beaten with sticks. Police have registered First Incident Reports (FIR) against all those arrested which state they have been involved in acts of terrorism.
Most of the victims, including women and children, have been released after pressure from Christian leaders and NGO’s including the BPCA. However, it is reported that Pervez Younus Khokhar has “unfairly” been detained.
Pastor Kamal Chaugtai said: “I heard the commotion outside the church and came out to see what was wrong. When I tried to bring peace and settle the dispute, I found myself being arrested with other Christians who were also trying to calm down the agitated policemen.”
BPCA stated that Christians from across Pakistan organized a protest on May 23, 2016 calling for protecting against the “tyranny” of Pakistani Police officers. They demanded a review of the use of the recently adopted anti-terrorism laws within the Terrorism Act.
“They had been protesting for the release of all the innocent Christians who remain in detention,” said the spokesperson.
During the protest Pastor Kamal Chaugtai, Ex -MPA was suffering from heavy blood pressure and ear pain and has now been admitted to hospital, and BPCA has asked for prayer for this situation and for Kamal Chaugtai.
BPCA Officer, Naveed Aziz, attended the protest and met with victims. He said: “These arrests were made under a clear abuse of the countries anti-terrorism laws and have caused great suffering to local Christians. The torture of innocent people has riled local Christians who desperately want justice.”
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said: “The anti-terrorism laws of Pakistan were hailed as an opportunity to end extremism in the country. Yet this attack on an innocent Christian community highlights the pervading corruption of the police and other statutory authorities.
“Moreover, I am also reminded of how an innocent Christian man Aftab Bahadur was hung for a crime he could not have possibly committed, after these anti-terrorism measures removed the moratorium on the death sentence in Pakistan.
Naveed visits place where arrests took place“Thus far, implementation of the new laws has impacted negatively on Christians. A review on anti-terrorism laws should be initiated with immediate effect so that other Christians are not persecuted in similar fashion.”
BCA says that Pervez Younus comes from an extremely impoverished background and his family is extremely apprehensive about his unwarranted detention.
His family have urged local authorities to take note of his unjustified arrest and have demanded his immediate release.
Sadly, Pervez is the sole bread winner for his family and his incarceration has left his family out of pocket and in dire straits.
The BPCA would like to offer help to the family and to provide the necessary legal aid to Pervez to help enact his release. To initiate legal aid, we require to raise £400 UK Pounds for a solicitor. We would also like to offer £200 UK Pounds for the family while they try to survive during the loss of income caused by Pervez's time behind bars. If you would like to donate, please go to: 
For further information, please go to: 
Photo: 1) Some of the protestors. 2) Entrance to Christian Life Ministries Church. 3) Naveed Aziz visits the place where the arrests took place. 4) Dan Wooding with his BPCA Award.
Dan Wooding with his BPCA awardAbout the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren, who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and the author or co-author of some 45 books. He has one radio show and two TV programs all based in Southern California. Dan has received a special award from the BPCA for his reporting on the persecution of Pakistani Christians.
** You may republish this and any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (

Sunday, May 22, 2016

How to Outsource Your Worry

How to Outsource Your Worry

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Most of the teachings I’ve heard about overcoming worry were the equivalent of handing out umbrellas during a hurricane.
The New Testament encourages us to outsource our worry. (The word “outsource” means to delegate a task to someone else.)
Consider this text:
“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and He will exalt you in due time. Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
~ 1 Peter 5:6-7
Peter instructs the Christians to whom he’s writing to cast their anxiety, their worry, and their care upon the Lord because He cares for them.
I will shamelessly admit that I’m a recovering worrier. Over the years, however, I discovered a way to overcome worry when it comes knocking on the door of my mind.
Here are three steps that will enable you give worry an atomic knee drop:
1) Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand.
This means, among other things, admitting to yourself that you’re a mere mortal who cannot control your circumstances. It means accepting that the unexplained twists and unfair turns of life are in God’s hands. It means believing that God has a good and positive purpose for allowing everything that comes your way, the good, the bad, and the unbearable.
In other words, Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The act of recognizing that God is sovereign, that He’s in control, and that He has a purpose for everything that comes into your life demands humility. There’s a certain surrender involved that’s good for the mind and heart.
2) Cast your care upon the Lord.
“Care” in this passage means anxiety, worry, concern, or fear. “Cast” means to throw something upon another. The same verb is used in Luke 19:35 where the disciples toss (or cast) their cloaks over a donkey to make a saddle for Jesus.
The idea here is one of transference. To cast my anxiety, worry, and care upon the Lord means that I transfer, delegate, and outsource it to Him.
When you do this, the anxiety is no longer yours. You’ve handed the situation over to God, so it’s His worry now.
The basis for this outsourcing is His care for you. Because He cares, you don’t have to. You can live care-free.
On one level, you still care about the situation. But on a higher level, you no longer care because you’ve transferred your care over to God. For this reason, a worry-free person appears to not care. Consequently, there’s great liberty and freedom in outsourcing your worry to God.
To illustrate, suppose that you give your smart phone to a friend. Your friend puts his contacts and apps on the phone and begins using it.
The next day your spouse asks, “Where’s your phone?”
You answer, “I don’t have it. I gave it to my friend. It belongs to him. It’s his business now.”
The same dynamic occurs when you outsource your worry to God.
The worry is no longer yours. It’s His. So let God do the worrying. Remember, He cares for you, so He has a stake in the situation too.
3) Use a tangible symbol to remind yourself that you’ve outsourced your worry to God.
You can come up with your own symbol for this, but when I cast a specific care on the Lord, I tell the Lord what I want to see Him do in the situation (this is called petition). Then I throw the burden of it on His shoulders.
After that, I write down the situation using one word or (even one letter) on a 3 x 5 index card. As I’ve described in my new Prolific program, the act of writing clears space in our mind.
I then place the index card in a specific Bible that’s sitting on my bookshelf — a Bible that I only use for this exercise. I open the Bible to one of the Psalms (randomly) and place the card there. This symbolizes that I no longer own the worry.
It’s now God’s.
When the enemy tries to assault my mind with the worry, I simply call to mind the card that I inserted in the Psalms. God has it. The situation is in hands more capable than my own. The worry doesn’t belong to me anymore.
To be free from worry, you may want to do the same. You see, after you cast your worry on the Lord, you will be tempted to take it back and fret over it again. Especially when time passes and you see nothing happen with the situation.
That’s the time to remind yourself that you’ve outsourced the problem to God and it belongs to Him. To put it in the words of James:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
~ James 4:7
A Critical Insight
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that having peace in my heart amid a turbulent or disconcerting situation is critically important to the Lord. And it’s critical for my spiritual, emotional, and physical well being.
The goal is to remain at peace in the face of conflict, opposition, and crisis. If you’re at peace, you have faith, and faith is what pleases God. It’s also what releases God’s action in the situation. Worrying produces damage to your spirit as well as to your soul and body.
As Jesus-followers, we don’t have to fret. Peace is part of our inheritance. For this reason, Paul told the Philippians,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
~ Philippians 4:6
Jesus also gave a lengthy discourse on why His followers have no need to worry (Matthew 6:25-34). He said, “don’t worry about your life … look at the birds and the lilies.” To a person who is in Christ, worry should be as impossible as it is for birds and flowers, both of which are incapable of anxiety.
Even in the Old Testament, we have the precursor to Peter’s instruction to cast our care upon the Lord:
“Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you”
~ Psalm 55:22
During His earthly life, Jesus was the most care-free person in the universe. He cast all His care upon His Father and lived worry-free.
Since the same Spirit that was in Christ is now in you, you can respond to the Lord is the same way, making God your Source. Remember, God the Father loves and cares for you just as much as He loves and cares for His Son, Jesus.
… So that the world may know that You (Father) sent Me, and loved them (My disciples), even as You have loved Me.
~ John 17:23
So take some time to deliberately cast your burden, your care, your anxiety, and your worry over to the Lord, knowing that He cares for you.
And when you’re tempted to take it back into your own hands, stand your ground and reaffirm that the care belongs to God and not to you.
In so doing, you will learn Christ as your Peace in times when it’s logical to worry.
What in this article did you find to be the most meaningful?
If you’ve found an additional strategy to defeat worry, what was it?

ISIS bombings in Baghdad—a sign of things to come?

ISIS bombings in Baghdad—a sign of things to come?

Security forces and citizens inspect the scene after a suicide car bombing hit a crowded outdoor market in Baghdad's eastern Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, Iraq, Tuesday, May 17, 2016. A wave of bombings struck outdoor markets in Shiite-dominated neighborhoods of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing and wounding dozens of civilians, officials said, the latest in deadly militant attacks far from the front lines in the country's north and west where Iraqi forces are battling the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)They say a candle flickers most violently just before it goes out. Could that be what we're seeing with ISIS in Iraq? Or is the recent onslaught of suicide bombings, with more than two hundred killed in the last week, a sign of something else? The terrorist group has lost roughly 45% of the territory it once controlled in Iraq, to go along with 20% of their Syrian holdings, and appears to be increasingly incapable of waging the kind of war that won them so much of the region back in 2014.

So it's quite possible that these suicide bombings are simply a last ditch effort to inflict as much damage as possible before their decline leads to eventual defeat. Perhaps, though, speaking about this conflict in the past tense is a bit premature. You see, such attacks were a regular part of the group's playbook when they were still part of Al Qaeda. That strategy proved quite successful in eliciting fear and deepening the prejudice between the Sunni terrorists and the Shiite majority throughout Iraq.

Back in 2013, a similar wave of suicide bombings elicited such a strong response from the Shiites that the Sunnis in the country welcomed ISIS and the protection they claimed to offer. As Tim Arango of The New York Times speculates, the recent attacks could have a similar purpose. Moreover, as Arango notes, "The reflex of the Shiite leadership is to protect Baghdad . . . and that is likely to prompt calls for military and police units to be pulled from the front lines to secure the capital."

Should that happen, a new groundswell of support and a lessened resistance could allow ISIS the necessary time to regroup from their recent losses. Or the attacks could simply be a desperate attempt to stave off an inevitable and forthcoming defeat. While the latter of those options would certainly be preferable, assuming that's the case would be unwise. Basing your plans for the future on hopes and dreams rather than the present reality seldom ends well.

Fortunately, we serve a God for whom the future is as real as the present (Isaiah 46:9–10). We can trust his plans because he makes them with full knowledge of what's ahead. That doesn't mean his plans won't result in some rocky moments for us though, as following his will can lead to difficult times.

To be sure, our suffering often simply results from our own mistakes or the fact that we live in a fallen, messed up world. There are other times, however, when God will ask us to endure a period of trials and hard times as a necessary part of his larger plan, and we should never doubt that God will only ask us to endure such times when they are necessary.

As a perfect Father (Matthew 7:11), he loves us far too much to ever wish us harm unless it's an essential part of a greater good (Jeremiah 29:11). If God really cares for us as Scripture teaches, then he would not want us to go through the difficulties we so often encounter in doing his will unless he considered the purpose towards which we are working worth the cost such obedience requires us to pay.

I can't imagine ever wanting my daughter to experience pain or asking her to do something that I know will cause her hardship unless it was absolutely necessary or I knew it was for her ultimate good. That is true even more of our heavenly Father.

So the next time following God's will costs you something, remember that he wouldn't ask you to do it unless he, in his perfect and omniscient wisdom, knew it was an essential part of his greater plan for your life. If we can believe that—not just say we believe it because we know we're supposed to but truly know it in the depths of our souls—then going through those hard times gets just a little bit easier. And while we may never fully understand that purpose this side of heaven, we can trust our heavenly Father when he says the price of obedience is more than worth it in the end (Romans 8:8). Do you believe that today?

South Carolina bans abortion after 19 weeks

South Carolina bans abortion after 19 weeks
Dr. Jim Denison
May 19, 2016
South Carolina's legislature has passed a ban on abortion after nineteen weeks. Twelve other states have similar laws. Why nineteen weeks? The bill's supporters believe that a fetus can feel pain at twenty weeks. This legislation is just one of many ways pro-life supporters are responding to the tragedy of abortion.

The numbers are staggering: globally, one in four pregnancies ends in abortion. This equates to fifty-six million babies killed each year. The number of babies aborted in America is one-and-a-half times the total population of Canada. (For more, see my Abortion and the Mercy of God.) However, in addition to legal efforts restricting abortion, a number of other strategies are also making a difference.

One: Women's health care.

A number of clinics are now providing alternatives to Planned Parenthood, the leading abortion provider in America. An example in Dallas is Thrive Women's Clinic. It offers pregnancy testing, sonograms, registered nurses, licensed doctors, nutrition and childbirth classes, clothing and furniture support, and referrals to social services—all free of charge. Similar clinics exist in other cities around the country.

Two: Adoption.

Consider BraveLove, a movement dedicated to changing the perception of adoption and increasing domestic infant adoptions. Its newest video, "(un)Wanted," tells the story of brave mothers who placed their children for adoption.

Three: Foster care.

May is National Foster Care Month, calling attention to the nearly 400,000 children and youth in the American foster care system. One of our ministry team members is caring for a foster child. I invite you to read her remarkable story at, one of the ministries of Denison Forum.

Four: Optimism.

It is easy to be discouraged by the moral trajectory of our culture. Marriage has been redefined; gender is being redefined as we speak. Euthanasia is gaining momentum. Genetic manipulation of human embryos is now a reality. Jihadist terrorism continues to dominate the news. Many Americans are discouraged by the tenor and direction of our politics.

But it's always too soon to give up on God. Consider these facts: in AD 100 there was one professing Christian for every 360 non-Christians in the world. By AD 1500, the ratio was 1:270; by AD 1500, it was 1:85; by 1900, it was 1:21; by 1970, it was 1:13. Today? The ratio is one to two.

Here's a related fact: the number of Christian missionaries has grown from 17,400 in 1900 to more than 400,000 today. During the twentieth century, the number of believers in Africa has risen from less than ten percent to nearly fifty percent. Christianity in Asia is growing twice as fast as the population. The country with the fastest Christian growth rate? Iran, at twenty percent. God is still on his throne.

How is the Lord calling you to support life? Perhaps he wants you to volunteer time or finances with pro-life health clinics and adoption ministries. Perhaps he is calling you to consider adoption or foster care. Undoubtedly he is calling you to pray for at-risk children and their parents and care providers.

We are called to be pro-life, not just pro-birth. How does God want you to support life today?

Whatever your Father calls you to do, he will empower you to do. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). Pope Francis was right: Jesus wants to turn "your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love! This is the path you are called to take. This is the path to overcoming all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture."

Let's take the path of moral virtue today.
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Aleppo, Syria Collapses into Chaos

Aleppo, Syria Collapses into Chaos

May 19, 2016
An infant is evacuated after an air strike in a rebel-held area of Al-Fardous District, Aleppo, on April 29. (Reuters/Abdairhman Ismail/Newscom).
An infant is evacuated after an air strike in a rebel-held area of Al-Fardous District, Aleppo, on April 29. (Reuters/Abdairhman Ismail/Newscom)
A 10-week-old ceasefire in Syria collapsed last month with an upsurge in fighting in Aleppo, depriving many civilians of their livelihood and others of their lives. Indigenous Christian workers are choosing to remain to help the survivors.
A series of short-term truces in Aleppo in the past few weeks has helped stem the bloodshed, but fighting between rebels, government forces and terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) has continued.
"The situation in Aleppo has taken a turn for the worse since the 24th of April," the leader of a ministry based in the area said. "Dozens of mortar bombs have damaged or completely destroyed buildings."
The United States, which supports the rebels, and Russia, which backs the government of President Bashar al-Assad, are trying to revive February's partial ceasefire agreement, which did not include ISIS or Al Qaeda's Al-Nusra Front. The agreement allowed peace talks to begin in Geneva, which proceeded without success until the uptick in fighting in Aleppo helped bring them to a halt.
The U.N. Security Council last week decried attacks against Syrian civilians, warning that shelling of hospitals, houses and other civilian targets could be regarded as war crimes. The director of the indigenous ministry, which provides food parcels and cash for school tuition, rent and medical costs, said hundreds of families have been forced to leave their homes in search of refuge in safer areas of the city.
"The opposition intensified its offensive in areas of Aleppo held by regime forces," the ministry director said. "In reality, militants are shelling civilian neighborhoods. It is pretty clear. All targets which have been subject to shelling are civilian neighborhoods."
Civilians place victim of shelling on emergency transport in Aleppo, Syria.
Civilians place victim of shelling on emergency transport in Aleppo, Syria.
Attempted ceasefires and truces have failed in part because Islamic extremist militants are sometimes mixed with "moderate" rebel groups, Russian officials say. One military expert estimated there are more than 14,000 rebel militants in and around the city, with "moderate" groups like the Free Syrian Army sometimes indistinguishable from extremist groups like the Al-Nusra Front.
Besides toppling Assad, the extremist groups have the goal of setting up their own Islamist authorities – with ISIS and Al-Nusra battling each other in the same arena – and targeting Christians in the process. The U.S. government in March formally recognized ISIS's actions as genocide against Christians, Yazidis and Shiites.
"One element of genocide is the intent to destroy an ethnic or religious group, in whole or in part," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in announcing the designation on March 17. "The fact is that Daesh [ISIS] kills Christians because they are Christians; Yazidis because they are Yazidis; Shia because they are Shia ... Its entire worldview is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology."
When fighting began in 2011, the Christian population in Syria of 2.2 million was less than 10 percent of the country's total; it is now estimated that Christians make up less than 5 percent of the remaining population. Christian leaders have been kidnapped and killed, Christmas celebrations have succumbed to suicide bombers and sacred sites haven been destroyed.
"Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions," Kerry said.
The State Department designation does not legally obligate the U.S. administration to take action against ISIS, though it lends support to doing so. Indigenous ministry leaders in the Middle East said it should spur both U.S. and Middle Eastern Christians to action.
"God sees ISIS as he saw Saul of Tarsus, as a persecutor and a killer of His children simply because of their faith," said one ministry leader in the region. "All Christians should support any effort to make the genocide declaration effective by going through their governments and parliaments to jointly put an end to ISIS. It will give reason for moderate Muslims and Islamic countries to join efforts against ISIS."
Another native ministry leader said that most Muslims in conflict areas of Syria and Iraq, especially Shiites, would agree that ISIS is guilty of genocide. Many Sunni Muslims in the Middle East farther from the fighting, however, see them as Mujahideen (jihadist fighters) spreading the true Islam, he said.
"A large part of affected Christians are joining the [Kurdish] Peshmerga army hoping to regain their areas," he said. "Christians in the world today face a big responsibility to save what remains of Christians in the Middle East. They should urge their leaders and their countries to be involved to preserve the Christian heritage in the Middle East, the source of Christianity where it began, and also step up efforts to work to spread the message of the gospel in those areas."
Though unrecognized as such, genocide against Christians is also taking place in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, he added.
Like the displaced in Syria and Iraq, Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan are lacking food, medical assistance and shelter. Indigenous ministries do what they can in the face of overwhelming needs.
"We want to be able to provide more food, medical costs, education, etc. for refugees and single moms/single-parents," said the leader of an organization based in Lebanon that is reaching refugees there as well as displaced people within Syria. "We would love to see that, and it's a huge need, but we just don't have the resources. The number of single moms we have at the moment is huge. I am being begged to help take this on, but I simply can't because we don't have the resources."
While meeting physical needs, the ministry is developing the faith of former Muslims who have come to Christ through its gospel audio recordings and other means.
"We're trying to mentor those who have converted, and now we're starting with the second-generation of believers who have converted under those we mentored," he said. "Please know how much we're thankful for you. We value you and being able to partner with Christian Aid a lot."
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: 400REF. Thank you!

Hope and a Prayer

Displaced Iraqis pray during a worship service at a refugee center in Erbil, Iraq.
Displaced Iraqis pray during a worship service at a refugee center in Erbil, Iraq. Among the Christian minority in the Middle East, prayer is often the only means of overcoming the ravages of war, an indigenous ministry leader said. An Iraqi woman from Mosul said that after her family paid a ransom for the return of their kidnapped brother, he fled the country. He eventually made it to Switzerland, where he took refuge in a phone booth one winter night. After he prayed for rescue from the cold, an Egyptian pastor happened by and took him into his home for a week. He now serves the church there, while his sister and the rest of the family had to flee Iraq after the Islamic State seized their property. The indigenous ministry has taught the sister who prayed for her brother to embroider and stitch, giving her hope for making a living wherever she may land.

Bugis in Indonesia

Bugis in Indonesia
The Bugis are a dynamic and highly mobile people, considered by many to be the dominant people group in South Sulawesi. Many Bugis have left their home area to seek success and wealth. The Bugis believe very strongly that certain days are good days, with good fortune for events and activities held on the first Wednesday and last Thursday of each month. Conversely, they consider Saturday to be a bad day, with misfortune more likely to happen on this day. The Bugis people are famous for their fervent adherence to Sunni Islam. However, many still follow their traditional system of animistic beliefs.
Ministry Obstacles
The Bugis people have a history of strong commitment to Islam.
Outreach Ideas
Perhaps the Lord will lead Indonesian Christians in other people groups to carry the good news of Jesus to the Bugis. Scripture and other communication tools are available in the language of the Bugis, but workers are needed.
Pray for the followers of Christ
Pray for those few people among the Bugis community who follow Christ. Pray they will be sent teachers and study materials to help them grow in Christ. Pray they will be faithful to fellowship together, and to spur one another on to love and good deeds.
Pray for the entire people group
The Bugis need financial investment and modernization in public shipping and the fishing industry, because there is large potential in these sectors. Also, South Sulawesi's potential in the mining and industrial sectors is still largely untapped, due to a lack of expertise and investment.
Scripture Focus
"The time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory." Isaiah 66:18

People Name: Bugis
Country: Indonesia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 6,415,000
World Population: 6,561,000
Language: Bugis
Primary Religion: Islam
Bible: Complete
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
Christ Followers: Few, less than 2%
Status: Unreached
Progress Level:

Tortured by ISIS, Father Douglas is the Bridge.

Tortured by ISIS, Father Douglas is the Bridge. 
The Islamists in Iraq shot him and attempted to bomb his church twice.
Then, in November, 2006 he was kidnapped and held for ransom. They broke his back and smashed his face with constant torturing. Beaten to within an inch of his life, he told the Church leadership not to pay any ransom as he was dying!
 That's when Father Douglas' life changed foreverHe didn't die but there was nothing else to take from him and became a new man. In short, he left the world behind and went "all in" with God.
 His ransom was paid and he was released, and since then, he has been outspoken as to what the problem is in Iraq.
More importantly, he speaks of the power of forgiveness and how God's love breaks the power of evil in this world and in your life.
Come cross The Bridge with us on July 7-9, as Father Douglas reveals to you the incredible secrets of the persecuted Church and how this message can set you free! Click here to register today!
For more information or to register you can visit our website at Early bird discount ends on May 31. You can also contact us for student and group discounts at 301-329-2849. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Darjee in Nepal

Darjee in Nepal
A migrant community, the Darjee are sometimes known as Damai. They are non-vegetarian, and rice is their staple cereal. The Darjee women play a significant role in their economy by plucking tea-leaves in tea gardens for wages. The traditional occupation of the Darjee is tailoring. They regard the Kuldevta as their household deity and also worship Vandevta. The Darjee are traditional musicians. The Nepali Brahmin do not accept water from the Darjee, but the Sarki, Kami, etc. accept water from them.
Ministry Obstacles
The Darjee had a literacy rate of 31% in the 1981 census, and has probably not improved much since then.
Outreach Ideas
Pray for workers to carry the Gospel of Christ to these people, especially in oral form. Several exposures to the Gospel message are usually required.
Pray for the followers of Christ
Pray for the few followers of Christ among this low caste community, that they will follow Christ with zeal and holiness. Pray they will be rooted and established in love.
Pray for the entire people group
Pray for the Darjee community to increasingly be drawn to the man Jesus Christ, to be curious about him and his teachings.
Scripture Focus
"All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." Matthew 25:32

People Name: Darjee
Country: Nepal
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 465,000
World Population: 534,000
Language: Nepali
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Bible: Complete
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
Christ Followers: Few, less than 2%
Status: Unreached
Progress Level:

She Was Ready to Die

She Was Ready to Die

She Was Ready to Die

Bahn No’Shaba’s husband had been kidnapped by ISIS. Her two children were starving, and her future in Iraq looked bleak. She decided she was ready to die.

God, however, had a different plan, using her suicide attempt to draw her closer to Him. He brought people around her to support her, and she began to experience the presence of the Lord like never before. Now she tells others, “We must pray for those who persecuted us.”

You can meet believers like Bahn No’Shaba through the video curriculum included with The Voice of the Martyrs’ I Am N Ministry Kit. The video curriculum brings these believers into your living room or church classroom, where you can see them and be encouraged by their faithfulness to Christ.

The I Am N Ministry Kit is designed specifically for small group use. Each kit includes a 6-session DVD with Leader’s Guide, six I Am N books, six wristbands, six Christians Facing Islamic Extremists guides, six Participant’s Guides and an I Am N music CD.

Each of the six 15-minute video sessions focuses on a particular theme: sacrifice, courage, joy, perseverance, forgiveness or faithfulness.

Don’t let your persecuted brothers and sisters suffer in silence. Learn from their faith and be moved to action.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rajput (Muslim traditions) in Pakistan

Rajput (Muslim traditions) in Pakistan
The name Rajput is derived from the Sanskrit word rajputra, meaning son of a ruler. The Rajputra constitute a class of nobility. The Rajput rose to political importance in the ninth and tenth centuries. In India, the Rajput have been a ruling class which owned vast tracts of land.
Ministry Obstacles
Trusting Christ fully requires an act of humility, and the Rajput have been a proud people.
Outreach Ideas
Much sustained, focused prayer is needed for the Rajput.
Pray for the followers of Christ
Pray for the followers of Christ that will soon emerge from the Rajput community of Pakistan, that they will be zealous to know and follow Christ. Pray they will rest fully on the finished work of Christ on the cross, and will look to his Spirit for power to live this life.
Pray for the entire people group
Pray the Rajput community will increasingly be drawn to the person of Isa Christ as they read the Koran, and will hunger to find out more about this man.
Scripture Focus
"You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Revelation 5:9

People Name: Rajput (Muslim traditions)
Country: Pakistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 16,854,000
World Population: 19,543,000
Language: Punjabi, Western
Primary Religion: Islam
Bible: New Testament
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
Christ Followers: Few, less than 2%
Status: Unreached
Progress Level:

Pastor Nadarkhani and Wife Released, but Three Church of Iran Members Still Being Held

Pastor Nadarkhani and Wife Released, but Three Church of Iran Members Still Being Held

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
Youcef Nadarkhani and wife TinaRASHT, IRAN (ANS – May 16 2016) -- Yousef Nadarkhani, the Church of Iran pastor acquitted of apostasy in 2012, and re-arrested along with his wife, Tina Pasandide Nadarkhani, in Iran on Friday, May 13, 2016, have both now been released.
According to sources linked with Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a UK-based human rights group, Pastor and Mrs. Nadarkhani were arrested on Friday after Iranian Ministry of Intelligence officers raided their home in Rasht, but were released on the same day.
“The raid on the Nadarkhani home is reported to have been part of a series that targeted around ten Christian homes,” said a CSW spokesperson. “Three other Christians, who were also arrested on May 13, are still in custody.”
CSW ( says that it was informed that Yasser Mossayebzadeh was arrested during the raid on Pastor Nadarkhani’s house. Also, the Ministry of Intelligence officers summoned Saheb Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi (Youhan) to their offices by telephone prior to raiding their homes, and are reported to have seized their Bibles, computers and mobile phones.
It is not the first time that the three men have been arrested. In February 2015, they were briefly detained following similar raids. Mohammadreza Omidi was initially detained in December 2012, during the annual crackdown on Christian churches. In 2013, he was one of four Christians sentenced to 80 lashes each after they were charged with drinking alcohol during a communion service and possessing a receiver and satellite antenna.
This was also the second time that Pastor Nadarkhani has been re-arrested since his release from prison in September 2012. He was initially detained in 2009 after going to his children’s school to question the Muslim monopoly on religious education, which he felt was unconstitutional.
Smaller Pastor Nadarkhani with wife and childrenHe was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death in 2010, a decision that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2011. On 8 September 2012, he was released from prison following his acquittal on apostasy charges, but was found guilty on charges of evangelizing. The pastor was recalled to prison on Christmas Day in 2012 to complete the remainder of his three-year sentence, and was released once again on December 7, 2013.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “While CSW is relieved that Pastor and Mrs. Nadarkhani have been freed, we remain deeply concerned for the welfare of Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi, who are still being held. The government must be held to account for its harassment of Iran’s Christian community, in particular the constant raids on homes and repeated arrests which are without basis.
“We continue to call on Iran to fully respect its constitutional and international human rights obligations by ensuring that justice and equality before the law are guaranteed to all citizens, regardless of their religion or belief.”
Photo captions: 1) Yousef Nadarkhani with his wife, Tina Pasandide Nadarkhani, who have both been freed. 2) Reunited: Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani with his wife, Tina Pasandide Nadarkhani, and their children. 3) Dan Wooding outside of the Kurdistan Parliament in Erbil, Northern Iraq.
Dan Wooding outside Kurdistan ParliamentAbout the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren, who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and the author or co-author of some 45 books. Dan has a radio show and two TV shows, all based in Southern California. He has traveled widely in the Middle East and his last reporting trip to the region for ANS was to Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, including its capital city of Erbil.
*** You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (

Fresh call for release of Asia Bibi

Fresh call for release of Asia Bibi

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
Asia BibiAUSTRALIA (ANS – May 16, 2016) -- The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, has increased the pressure on Pakistan over their continued detention of Pakistan Christian mother, Asia Bibi, under the country’s much criticized blasphemy laws, by writing to Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Australia, Naela Chohan, and Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, about the case.
Last month, members of the Anglican Consultative Council, meeting in the Zambian capital of Lusaka, called for a fresh investigation into her case, leading to her “honorable acquittal.” Asia Bibi was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010, after being accused of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed after she took a sip from a drinking vessel before handing it to her Islamic colleagues.
“It is clear that a disgraceful application of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, 295c, has brought tragedy and shame upon [Asia Bibi] and indeed the beautiful nation of Pakistan,” Archbishop Freier later wrote on his blog, in an article republished by ACNS (
In his letter to Australia’s Foreign Minister, he asks Ms. Bishop to pursue justice and mercy for Asia Bibi and for the protection of the Christian minority in Pakistan. In his letter to the High Commissioner for Pakistan to Australia, he asked that Pakistan re-open Asia Bibi’s case and acquit her, and also work to protect Christians in Pakistan, who go constantly in fear of their lives and property.
“I wrote to Ms. Chohan that Pakistan and Australia share interests and values, including the priority of justice with mercy,” Archbishop Freier said. “The treatment of Asia Bibi fails this fundamental test of our shared humanity, and her continued imprisonment brings shame.”
What caused the blasphemy charge against Pakistani Christian wife and mother, Asia Bibi?
Asia was raised in Ittan Wali, a small, rural village in theSheikhupura Districtof Punjab, thirty miles outside ofLahore, and one day in 2009, she was picking berries in the sweltering heat, in a field with a group of Muslim women, who worked on the farm of Muslim landowner, Muhammad Idrees. Her family was one of only three Christian families in the village of more than 1,500 families
During this time, she was asked by some of the other women, to get some water for them from a well. On the long and dusty walk back, she took a sip of water from the vessel, and when the Muslim women discovered this they became extremely angry, and in an exchange, she told them: “Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins.... Our Christ is alive.”
After uttering these words that she used to defend her faith against the mocking co-workers who tried to make her convert to Islam, she could never have dreamed the shocking consequences that would follow.
Archbishop Phillip FreierThe Muslim women began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey.
“Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into protective custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. Christians urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but the police claimed they had to go forward because of pressure from local Muslim leaders,” explained a Voice of the Martyrs spokesperson.
“Upon hearing this response, the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey.
“Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into protective custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. Christians urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but the police claimed they had to go forward because of pressure from local Muslim leaders.”
After a lengthy trial, on Nov. 8, 2010, Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by a judge. The judge also fined Asia $1,190 (U.S.) and told her she had seven days to appeal the decision. Her attorneys filed the appeal promptly, and now wait for the Lahore High Court to rule. If the appeal is rejected, Asia would be the first woman to be lawfully executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. She remains in prison, waiting to hear the high court’s ruling.
But that wasn’t all. There were two shocking events related to her case:
Governor with Asia Bibi* On Jan. 4, 2011, the governor of Punjab province, where Asia lives, was assassinated by a member of his security team. Though a Muslim, Salmaan Taseer had spoken out repeatedly in favor of a pardon for Asia Bibi and for a reexamination of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Governor Taseer also met with Asia in prison.
* On March 2, 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet and another person who had spoken out on behalf of Asia Bibi, was also assassinated for his support of her.
The Voice of the Martyrs has supported Asia Bibi and her family since the time of her arrest. In July, 2011, VOM launched in an effort to gather 1,000,000 signatures from around the world asking for Asia’s release.
In Pakistan, more than 150,000 Christians have also signed a petition demanding justice for persecution victims, including Asia Bibi. Now you can join with The Voice of the Martyrs and its Pakistani brothers and sisters in a call for mercy.
“Invite your friends to visit  and add their names to the petition as well. VOM will deliver the petition, along with the list of signers, to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC,” added the VOM spokesperson.
Photo captions: 1) Asia Bibi. 2) Archbishop Philip Freier. 3) Salmaan Taseer with Asia Bibi at the prison where she was fingerprinted. Many believe that this visit lead to his murder. 4) Dan Wooding recording his radio show.
Dan Wooding recording his radio showAbout the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren, who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and the author or co-author of some 45 books. Dan has a radio show and two TV shows, all based in Southern California.
*** You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (