Mission News Network

News Worth Listening To
  1. China (MNN) -- The persecution barometer is approaching red, and the Chinese Church needs your prayers. We spoke with the leader* of a Christian ministry operating in the country. He says restrictions put in place earlier this year and a new leader at China’s helm are the source of rising pressure. “They are definitely putting more pressure on the local Church and far more persecution than we’ve seen in decades,” he says.

    “Many groups won’t talk about it right now because lives are at stake.”

    New reports surfaced throughout October of church shut-downs and government raids. “The reports you do hear are not even giving the full story; they’re just a glimpse of what’s happening.”

    Why is the government “cracking down” on Christians?

    According to this description, the Chinese Church is the largest social community not controlled by the government.

    While the distinction between government-registered and unregistered churches used to be a major factor in whether or not they were persecuted, this is no longer the case. All Christians are slandered, which seems to support the widely held belief that the Communist Party is banking on a unified Chinese cultural identity to maintain its power.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping (Photo courtesy of Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Flickr under Creative Commons)

    The Chinese government is acting primarily out of fear, says the leader we interviewed.

    “Their biggest fear isn’t so much the Gospel as it is a political movement. They’re concerned about losing power, losing control.”

    There are an estimated 97 million believers in China. Some groups expect it to hold the world’s largest Christian population by 2020. “The Church of China is in a very delicate spot right now,” the leader observes. “They want to grow; they want to send missionaries…but the pressure’s on because there’s so much fear at the top, within the government.”

    How to pray for the Chinese Church

    Due to this situation’s “secretive” nature, the Christian leader says your prayers are essential.  Ask the Lord to protect Chinese believers, and pray the Spirit will help them act in faith. Most importantly, pray for the leaders of China. Pray for their eyes to be opened and their mindsets changed. “If you know Chinese leaders or if you know missionaries serving in China,” he adds, “do whatever you can to encourage them. Encouragement is a huge factor right now.” He urges you to use caution, though. Messages sent through an insecure connection may be intercepted by the government and used in a negative way.

    “It is important right now for people to pray. Pray for doors to open and avenues to remain available so that the global Church and the Chinese Church can work together for the sake of Christ.”

    *-- The name and ministry of this individual are withheld for security purposes.     Header image obtained via Pexels.
  2. USA (MNN) -- We told you that there is a new teens devotional coming out with Keys for Kids. But now, their teen devotional "Unlocked" is officially in development and has some exciting updates! Keys for Kids has hired Kandi Zeller as the new editor for "Unlocked," and they even have a prototype of the teen devotional available. Greg Yoder, executive director of Keys for Kids, says, “Kandi actually grew up reading Keys for Kids, our devotional, as a kid. Then as she became a tweener and a teenager, she actually began writing her own teen devotional thinking that Keys for Kids would want something like this. So she went through college, actually went through Kuyper College in Grand Rapids and started interning for us, of all things! Well, she is now our official editor of Unlocked.” teenagers, boysThe teen devotional is still undergoing changes as they get feedback from other teenagers. “If people that are listening or reading this information would like a prototype, we would be happy to send them one! All they need to [do] is to go to Unlocked.org.” There, you can download a sample of the "Unlocked" devotional prototype, take a survey on what you think about the devo, and donate to the project. You can even check out writer’s guidelines if you want to submit a devotional to "Unlocked." “We are in need of collecting 90 writings every quarter for this teen devotional,” Yoder explains. “If you happen to be a writer, a teenager, a college student, an adult who just loves to write and has some ideas, we have some suggestions for you in what we’re looking for…. And, by the way, we do pay!” Camp directors, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, and parents have all been requesting a teen devotional from Keys for Kids for years. The problem was it wasn’t really a demographic the ministry catered to. teenagers, college students, high schoolers, shoes, kidsHowever, now that Keys for Kids is all-in on seeing Unlocked come to fruition, they couldn’t be more confident that the Lord’s hand was in this process from the beginning. “We’re super excited about the fact that there is going to be a teen devotional that is not just providing daily readings for teens, but they are sharing the Gospel with kids that are searching and also giving them Scripture-based readings. They are going to help teenagers specifically grow in their walk with the Lord.” Yoder says there really isn’t anything like "Unlocked" on the market today -- a Scripture-based devotional that will take teens from their 9th-grade through their 12th-grade year. “We anticipate that "Unlocked" will become hopefully as large in terms of subscribers as our Keys for Kids devotional is. That’s anywhere from 65,000 to 75,000 people that are receiving that every quarter.” Keys for Kids plans to launch "Unlocked" devotionals in June. But starting Monday, you can get your subscription in early. Just visit the Keys for Kids website. For now, Yoder lists a few crucial prayer requests: “We need prayer for additional funding. We are in the process of raising nearly half-a-million dollars for our next initiative which is not only funding the Keys for Kids devotional proper, but then also creating an app that we know is going to be kind of partnering with this printed devotional.” If you would like to give in support of "Unlocked," click here! “Then, [we are] finding a voice to be our radio program voice for "Unlocked." We’re going to be recording that for teens down the road, so we just need to find that individual who is best able to communicate these readings. And will it be one person or multiple people? We just don’t know yet.” Finally, he asks, “Pray for wisdom specifically. We’ve never done teen ministry before so this is kind of new for us. We just want to make sure we’re following the Lord’s leading in everything we do.” You can learn more about this project at Unlocked.org. Keep checking back because new information will be available over the next month as well.     Header image courtesy of Keys for Kids.
  3. Middle East (MNN) – Four million refugee children are not receiving an education according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR reported that only 61 percent of refugee children attend primary school. Those numbers dramatically decrease when it comes to secondary school; only 23 percent of refugee children attend.. That's especially a shame because UNHCR workers report that education can help refugee children heal and find normalcy in their daily lives. In other words, education is vital for the emotional and spiritual healing and growth of refugee minors.

    Bridging the Gap

    SAT-7, a satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, is helping bridge the gap of education for millions of refugee children through their My School program. “SAT-7 responded to the need of addressing educational issues for children and young people because this generation of children is suffering from effects of conflicts and a lot of social inequalities,” SAT-7’s Juliana Sfeir says. “There’s a lot of people like in the societies looking at them in a very denigrating way, lack of education, poverty, lack of jobs, and things like that... For everyone if they don’t get to go to school, they don’t feel equal. They feel rejected. They don’t feel part of society.” SAT-7 founded the My School program in 2015 as a way to compliment the schooling system and give children a Christian-foundation education. The program has continued to grow ever since. Today, SAT-7 has produced around 300 episodes that cover different elementary levels of education. Sfeir says the broadcast programs are based on Lebanese and Syrian curriculums. The programs cover educational topics of Arabic, English, science, and mathematics, but also promote physical well-being and hygiene. “There’s a lot of also additional therapeutic segments that help displaced children cope with issues like therapeutic storytelling” to help heal their trauma. Sfeir shares the programs involve engaging activities like songs so children can enjoy the lessons while they learn. However, while lessons are entertaining, they are still highly educational and effective. Sfeir says children are happy to put their newfound education into practice, whether that’s speaking in a different language or even washing hands before dinner. While starting the My School program, SAT-7 invited a hundred refugee children to their Kids Center for a year of lessons. Kids arrived at the center, had breakfast, learned from My School segments, and then returned home. Sfeir says in that year, the children grew in their education and even changed the way they spoke and interacted with others.

    Future Education

    Looking to the future, SAT-7 will continue to produce videos and add programs so children can receive an education that heals and changes no matter where they are. “We’re hoping to move with a new My School [program] that now we will start designing it,” Sfeir says.

    (Photo courtesy of SAT-7 via Facebook)

    The new program will “move into more things that have to do with self-skills of a person, social rights, conflict resolution, inequality, maybe financial education, and things like that.” Through these programs, SAT-7 hopes to embolden people as they either return to their native lands or settle down in their host countries. “This is a stage when development will soon start, and there are talks of developing the land of Syria and helping Syria developing their infrastructure and their business... This is our way of contributing and actually empowering people to go back home if they want.” Help SAT-7 as they build up and heal children through a Christ-based education. Give to My School so more children can be touched by their programs.