May News from around the World

AROUND THE WORLD: World Vision International Names New President
Kevin Jenkins, managing director of a Canadian investment firm and vice chair of the board of World Vision Canada, has been appointed the new president and chief executive officer of World Vision International (WVI). The appointment is effective 1 October 2009. At its semi-annual meeting in Kenya, the WVI board unanimously voted for Jenkins to succeed Dean Hirsch, who announced last year that he was stepping down as president. Jenkins becomes the seventh president of World Vision since its founding in 1950 by Bob Pierce, an American evangelist who sought help for Korean war orphans. World Vision operates in ninety-eight countries with forty thousand staff and an annual budget of $2.5 billion USD. (World Vision International)

CAMBODIA: Self-sufficiency Program Ready to Launch in Local Churches
The FARMS International self-sufficiency program, which provides microfinancing and lessons in technical skills through local churches in Cambodia, is almost ready to launch. Christians are especially excited about the program and will be the ones to get the program going. As other Cambodians see the progress Christians are making toward self-sufficiency, they will hopefully come to the Church for help. The Church in Cambodia is growing quickly; this should spur that on even more. (Mission Network News)

GUATEMALA: Evangelistic Campaign a National Event
Guatemala's president, first lady, vice president, and three ministers of state all attended the two-day Guatemala Festival at Parque de la Democracia 13-14 March 2009, a first in the history of evangelist Luis Palau festivals. President Alvaro Colom addressed the crowd from the main stage, sharing his feelings toward evangelicals in Guatemala and his appreciation toward Palau and his team. The country is known as one of the most evangelical nations in the Spanish-speaking world. Over three thousand Guatemalan churches invited Palau and his team to hold this historic campaign—the largest community service initiative the nation has ever seen. Included in the campaign were several private meetings with the president and his Cabinet and gatherings with the Supreme Court, military leadership, police cadets, lawyers, judges, doctors, mayors, and other top-level dignitaries. (Assist News)

PERU: New General Secretary Named to Latin American Council of Churches
The Rev. Nilton Giese, a Lutheran pastor from Brazil, has been named the new general secretary of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), following the resignation of its previous top official in 2008. “The aim is to consider national witness as a priority, to get closer to the national Church reality and, taking up these challenges, to shape an action plan for the programmes and regional desks of CLAI,” said Giese in a statement after his election during a 19-22 March 2009 meeting of the church grouping’s board of directors in Lima. (Ecumenical News International

PUERTO RICO: COMIBAM Appoints New Executive Director
Dr. Decio de Carvalho, a Brazilian living in Puerto Rico, has been appointed by the COMIBAM (Cooperacion Misionera Iberoamericana) board as the new executive director. He replaces Jesús Londoño, who has held the post since 2000. Carvalho has experience in mission in Brazil and in other countries in Latin America and has worked in Turkey and lived in the United States. The transition ceremony will occur during the General Assembly of COMIBAM in November 2009. (World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission)  

TURKEY: Mistrust of Christians Presents a Barrier in Evangelism
In Turkey, it is estimated that the number of Christian believers declined from twenty-two percent to only .2% between 1900 and 2000, and most of these Christians are non-Turkish. The other 99.8% of the Turkish population is Muslim. Behnan Konutgan with I.N. Network says that “identity mistrust” has been a challenge in their ministry. Church planting and evangelism are carried out by a small church that was planted in Istanbul, through personal visits and discipling church members and building them up in their faith. I.N. Network also works with internet evangelism. While evangelism is not specifically forbidden, many view it with suspicion. (I.N. Network)

UKRAINE: Churches Challenged to Address Children at Risk
With 160 delegates gathered for the Eastern European Summit on Orphans and the Church 17-18 March 2009, Mikhail Kozitsky of Christian Foster Families in St. Petersburg, Russia, challenged churches to step out of their comfort zones and respond to the crisis of children at risk. In the opening session of the conference at Donetsk Christian University he said, “We are called together to have a great impact. I know this conference will be blessed by God.” According to conference director Karmen Friesen, director of The CoMission for Children at Risk, the summit had a wide range of participants, from pastors who desired to mobilize their churches to care for orphans, to those who had already been actively serving children at risk. Friesen hopes that not only will conference delegates be better equipped but will benefit from networking with other organizations. (Assist News)

UNITED STATES: Evangelicalism on the Verge of Collapse?
According to an article published by Michael Spencer in the Christian Science Monitor, some believe evangelicalism in the United States is on the verge of a major collapse. He says this breakdown could also be the beginning of the marginalization of Christians as a whole in a country founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic. Warren Smith, author of the new book Lovers Quarrel with the Evangelical Church, agrees. Smith says, “There are all kinds of data that say we actually have fewer Christians today than we did fifty years ago.” There are more megachurches in the United States than ever before; however, Smith says it’s not because there are more Christians. He says the data suggests that more Christians are flocking to mega churches and abandoning small churches. According to Smith, the sad thing is, “Megachurches provide an opportunity for people to come and be spectators rather than come and be participants or engage in true disciple-building activity.” (Mission Network News)

UNITED STATES: Number of Homeless Children Increasing
One in every fifty American children experiences homelessness, according to a new report by the National Center on Family Homelessness. The report ranked New Mexico fourth from the worst. In the midst of the growing numbers, Joy Junction (JJ) in New Mexico shows the love and patience of Jesus Christ to all guests in its shelter. JJ is a shelter providing both emergency and longer term food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and other services for homeless women and families. According to JJ’s website, it is the largest shelter of its kind in the state, and shelters about three hundred people daily. At JJ, letting Christ begin to heal their broken hearts, in his time, is a key component in the recovery model used. (Assist News)

ZAMBIA: Compassion Program Deals with HIV/AIDS Care
With an infection rate among adults nearing twenty percent and one of the highest proportions of orphans in the world, few countries in Africa have been harder hit by HIV/AIDS than Zambia. Motivated by the conviction that the Church should be the catalyst behind the needed change, Baptist Mid-Missions launched A Refuge of Compassion Ministries (ARC) in the southern province of Zambia. The ARC program partners with local Baptist churches and conducts a broad layer of ministry that uniquely mobilizes believers in biblical responsiveness and the compassionate care of orphans, widows, and the destitute. (Baptist Mid-Mission)