January News from around the World

AROUND THE WORLD: Military BibleSticks Successful
Since July 2008, Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) has sent more than 7,600 Military BibleSticks to military chaplains around the world. The specially-designed devices are digital audio players pre-loaded with the Audio Drama New Testament. A durable device, only about the size of a pack of chewing gum, the BibleStick is intentionally inconspicuous and easily fits into a uniform pocket. (Faith Comes By Hearing)

AROUND THE WORLD: Mercy Ships Confirms New CEO
In December 2008, Mercy Ships announced the unanimous confirmation of Sam Smith as its new CEO. Smith was already serving as interim CEO for Mercy Ships, a global charity that has operated hospital ships in developing nations since 1978. He has nearly twenty years of experience in the area of brand and marketing development and previously worked with some of the largest manufacturing and retail organizations in North America. (Mercy Ships)

AROUND THE WORLD: Paraclete Announces New CEO
In November 2008, Paraclete announced Glen Volkhardt as the new CEO of the Phoenix, Arizona (USA)-based organization effective 1 January 2009. Paraclete assists mission agencies and churches in missions through its experienced consultants and senior missionaries, advising workers reaching the least-reached peoples of the world. Volkhardt previously served with HCJB Global for twenty-nine years, where he was vice president of human resources and strategic planning. He will replace Don Parrott, who will become CEO of The Finishers Project. (Paraclete)

AROUND THE WORLD: Locating Devices Key to Rescue at Sea
To help Bible translators travel safely over water, JAARS Maritime Services has developed survival packets for times of crisis. An important part of the packet is the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which can send a signal that will relay detailed search-and-rescue information. A distress signal is picked up in the United States via satellite and relayed to a local supervisor in the appropriate area of the world, who can then initiate search and rescue. The survival packets also include life jackets and ropes to hold group members and their equipment together. (JAARS Maritime Services)

AROUND THE WORLD: Project Hannah Brings Hope to Women around the World
In 1997, awareness advocate Marli Spieker founded Project Hannah (PH), a ministry of Trans World Radio. Today, PH broadcasts in forty-eight languages on 550 stations around the world in an effort to bring hope to women living under oppression and bondage. Women of Hope, a regularly broadcasted program, brings together experienced volunteers from around the world who provide fascinating topics, scripts, and interviews on a variety of health and spiritual matters. Before founding PH, Spieker ministered to women in her home country of Brazil and then later served as a Trans World Radio missionary with her husband in Asia. (Project Hannah)

CANADA: EFC President Named Secretary of WEA International Council
In November 2008, Bruce Clemenger, president of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), was named secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) International Council. Clemenger has served the EFC since 1992. In 1996, he established EFC's Ottawa (Canada) office and was the founding director of the EFC's Centre for Faith and Public Life. He speaks and writes on religion, culture, ethics, and politics. (Evangelical Fellowship of Canada)

INDIA: People Encouraged to Kill Christians for Rewards
It has been reported that extremists in Orissa are intensifying pressure on Christians by offering bounties for killing Christians. This includes a payment of $250 for each pastor murdered. People in India are also being offered rewards such as liquor, food, and weapons for destroying churches and Christian properties. (Assist News)

INDIA: Gospel for Asia President Does Not Want to Rush to Judgment
In December 2008, Gospel for Asia (GFA) president K.P. Yohannan expressed reluctance to blame the recent coordinated attacks in Mumbai on Muslims until investigation work is completed. Yohannan pointed out that other attacks initially blamed on Muslims were later found to be perpetrated by radical Hindu groups. Several Mumbai sites were attacked by gunmen on 29 November 2008, leaving an estimated 195 people dead and hundreds more injured. One of the victims was reported to be an anti-terrorism official who helped uncover Hindu ties to previous attacks. (Mission Network News)

IRAQ: Families Still in Exile amid Further Violence against Christians
In November 2008, Open Doors continued to support families in the Ninveah plain who had been forced to fled Mosul following Muslim extremist violence. Some families had begun returning to their homes in Mosul after the deployment of more Iraqi troops in the city. However, an attack on a house on 12 November 2008 that left two Christian sisters dead by Islamic terrorists will likely slow or stop families from returning. (Assist News

KAZAKHSTAN: Religion Law Moves on to President for Approval
Only hours after it promised to cooperate with the international community on a draft law heavily restricting religious freedom, the Kazakh lower house of parliament passed the bill. While the Kazakh government said it would allow a review of the legislation by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the law still moved forward to President Nursultan Nazarbayev for final approval. Kazakhstan is scheduled to lead the OSCE in 2010. Among the OSCE’s many institutions is the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. (Mission Network News)

NIGERIA: Muslims and Christians Clash
Hundreds were reported dead following a clash between Muslims and Christians in central Nigeria in late November 2008. The conflict erupted in the city of Jos, where people of various ethnic groups commingle and where the Muslim north and predominantly Christian south meet. There appeared to be a dispute over the result of a local election. This latest violence is the worst Nigeria has seen since 2004, when an estimated seven hundred people died during Muslim-Christian conflict. (BosNewsLife)

PAPAU NEW GUINEA: New Testament Translated into a New Written Language
After twenty-three years of teamwork among Wycliffe Bible Translators, Wycliffe members Greg and Mary Pearson, the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and the Lote people, the first New Testament in the Lote mother tongue will be available by the end of 2009. Lote speakers number about six thousand people scattered in remote villages on the southern coast of East New Britain, Papau New Guinea. Lote people survive by farming and live mostly without electricity. Before the New Testament could be put into the people’s native tongue, a written language form of Lote had to be developed as there was none prior to 1986. Nationals then had to be trained to read and write their own language once the written form was developed. (Assist News)

PHILLIPINES: FilSIM Hopes New Logo Inspires Questions
The Philippines branch of Serving In Mission International (FilSIM) has designed a new logo that will hopefully lead to inquiries about Jesus among ethnic minorities. The new logo features only the organization’s acronym, a gravestone rolling away, and light shining outward. While believers will understand the significance of the image, people unfamiliar with the gospel may be inclined to ask questions. (Serving In Mission)

RUSSIA: Some Religious Groups to Be “Liquidated”
Director of Youth With A Mission Slavic Ministries International (YWAM), Al Akimoff discovered in October 2008 that the Russian Ministry of Justice had posted on its webpage a list of fifty-six religious organizations schedule for “liquidation.” Akimoff stated that at least thirty-five of those listed were Protestant organizations. Included on the list were YWAM, World Vision, and at least six Baptist groups. Akimoff said conditions were worsening in Russia following a new law allowing missionaries to stay only three months before being required to leave and reapply for another 3-month visa. (Assist News)

SINGAPORE: BGEA My Hope Outreach Involves Thousands of Matthews
More than twenty thousand homes in Singapore participated in the My Hope outreach 12-14 December 2008. An important ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), the television project is spearheaded by local Christians who call themselves “Matthews,” after the disciple who invited friends to his home to meet Jesus. “Matthews” invite guests to their homes to watch a culturally-appropriate DVD which features sermons from Billy and Franklin Graham. After watching the video, “Matthews” share personal stories and invite guests to accept or rededicate their lives to Christ. This Singapore effort followed a massive BGEA My Hope campaign in Brazil, which involved more than 850,000 homes. (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)

SOUTH KOREA: Nazarene Church Celebrates Sixty Years of Growth
In November 2008, Korean Nazarenes gathered at Yu Kwan Soon Memorial Stadium in Cheonan City, South Korea, to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Church of the Nazarene in Korea (CNK) and the one-hundredth anniversary of the denomination. First branching into Korea in 1948 with a small handful of churches, the CNK is now reported to be the second largest district in the international Church. There are approximately twenty-one thousand members and more than 275 churches. The district also established Korea Nazarene University, the largest Nazarene University in the world with an estimated 5,500 students. About seven thousand people attended the celebration, which featured several guest speakers, including General Superintendent Emeritus and first Nazarene missionary to Korea, Dr. Donald Owens. (Nazarene Communications Network)

THAILAND: WEA General Assembly Asserts Commitment to World Evangelism
In October 2008, more than five hundred senior evangelical leaders gathered for the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) General Assembly in Pattaya, Thailand. Delegates agreed six major resolutions, setting out an evangelical response to: religious liberty, HIV and AIDS, poverty, peacemaking, creation care, and the global financial crisis. Speaking at the conference WEA international director Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe reaffirmed the WEA's commitment to world evangelization: “If anyone tells you that we’ve gone soft on world evangelization, you can tell them that we are totally committed to world evangelization because it is only Jesus Christ that changes people’s lives.” The assembly also heard from the executive chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE), Douglas Birdsall. WEA is collaborating with the LCWE in its major Cape Town 2010 meeting, which will bring together four thousand evangelicals to assess the next steps in realizing the movement’s vision of “the whole Church taking the whole gospel to the whole world.” (World Evangelical Alliance)

UNITED STATES: Wycliffe Receives Its Largest Gift Ever
Wycliffe’s Last Languages Campaign just got closer to reaching a monumental goal, as an anonymous donor gave Florida (USA)-based Wycliffe USA $50 million USD in November 2008, the largest gift in the ministry’s 75-year history. The campaign has the goal of raising $1 billion in gifts and pledges by 2018 for its effort to start Bible translation programs in all remaining world language groups by the year 2025. According to its website, 2.4 million people die annually in such communities without hearing or reading the gospel in their own language. Wycliffe USA president Bob Creson said, “Despite stock market declines and global economic uncertainty, a thoughtful donor took a bold step of faith.” (Wycliffe Bible Translators)

ZIMBABWE: World Vision Responds to Cholera Outbreak
World Vision International (WV) responded to a recent cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe by distributing hundred of cholera kits to help protect its staff and members of the communities affected. The kits, containing medicine, water purification tablets, and other materials, each have supplies to treat fifty people. According to WV’s Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs director in Zimbabwe, Daniel Muchena, the United Nations suspects thousands of cases of cholera have arisen resulting in hundreds of deaths. The situation is expected to worsen as the rainy season approaches. (Assist News)