January/February News from around the World

AROUND THE WORLD: Trans World Radio Changes Its Name to TWR
Effective 18 November 2009, International Christian ministry Trans World Radio, a pioneer in media missions, changed its name to TWR. TWR has also adopted the positioning statement “Speaking Hope to the World” to fortify its new identity. “While our commitment to radio broadcasting remains steadfast, the name Trans World Radio no longer fully conveys the scope of our organization,” says TWR president Lauren Libby. “TWR is more than radio. It is a multifaceted media ministry. By changing the name to TWR, we will maintain radio as a keystone communication component, all the while employing a strategic integration of new media platforms. In fact, we will even seek to enlarge our broadcasting footprint.” Libby explained that TWR is committed to leveraging digital advances such as the Internet, MP3 players, video, and other mobile-device formats. “In recent years, modern technology has enabled us to make significant strides in engaging with our global audience,” he said. “Whether it's by radio or other new media means, TWR is dedicated to helping fulfill Christ's Great Commission.” (Trans World Radio)

CHINA: The Preaching Movement in China
Although an estimated seventy million Christians live in China today, there are only twenty-three seminaries (which graduate one thousand people a year) in the entire country, leading to the potential for a weaker biblical foundation for pastors. To address this issue, the JSM-Langham Preaching program partnered with two organizations at work in Hong Kong to offer training seminars to forty-five pastors. There are plans to run a follow-up seminar in the near future with the group and an additional seminar with a new group of pastors. (JSM-Langham Partnership)

COLOMBIA: Christians Held Captive and Told to Renounce Their Faith
In November 2009, it was reported that sixteen Christians belonging to the Kogui indigenous people group in Colombia were being held captive on their reserve in an attempt to force them to renounce Christianity. The group of believers, which includes men, women, and three babies, was captured during a meeting called by the Kogui governor. Community leaders shouted abuses at the believers throughout the night. They were later taken to a remote area of the reserve and told they would not be freed until they renounced their faith in Christ. At last report, two of the kidnapped infants were seriously ill. The governor and his allies also humiliated non-Christian leaders who had supported the Christians in the community and protected them from being expelled. The governor reportedly intends to capture remaining Christians and force them to renounce their faith. (Voice of the Martyrs)

INDIA: Hindu Radicals Targeting Christians
There is evidence now that continued violence against Christians in India is fueled by animosity toward the conversion of many Hindus to Christianity. President of Mission India (MI), Dave Stravers, says the evidence comes from hard-line Hindu groups. “We [received] a PowerPoint presentation from a Hindu extremist group warning people in the state of Karnataka that the Christians are growing so fast that they're worried that the state might actually become a majority Christian state.” According to Stravers, the Hindu radicals also believe the state of Andhra Pradesh could become Christian if something isn't done. Stravers explains that the Hindus are shaken by the growth of the Church saying, “It used to be when you went through the villages, you saw only temples. But now you're seeing churches, and the temples are being closed. It's really confirming our experience that there is a powerful movement of Christ in India.” Hindu radicals are doing something about it. They're threatening and attacking pastors. It was reported that one pastor was attacked in the middle of a service by a group of men who ran into the church wielding clubs. MI supports the local church by helping establish children's Bible clubs, literacy classes and pastoral training. (Mission Network News)

MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA: SAT-7 Strategically Sharing the Gospel through Satellite Television
SAT-7’s four channels, SAT-7 Arabic, PARS (Persian), KIDS (Arabic), and TURK, are watched in more than seventy nations, including more than twenty across the Middle East and North Africa. Up to ninety-five percent of the people in some of these ME/NA nations have access to satellite television , making SAT-7 a strategic ministry to reach this part of the world for Jesus. According to Rev. Dr. Samah Maurice, senior pastor of the Kasr El Dobara Church in Cairo (the largest Protestant church in the Middle East, “If you see most of the cities in the Arab world now, even homes in the poorest areas have satellite dishes, and they are even more common than refrigerators or ovens….The local church cannot do what the satellite can do these days.” (SAT-7)

MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA: 10/40 Window Most “Gospel-Deprived”
Nations located between ten and forty degrees north of the equator fall into a span dubbed the “10/40 Window.” Thousands of unreached people groups inhabit the 10/40 Window, and approximately half of these groups have no access to Christian literature. “It is the most gospel-deprived, gospel-needy area of the world,” says David Shibley of Global Advance (GA). After nearly a decade of evangelistic focus and effort, Shibley says the region is producing a harvest. Churches planted throughout the 10/40 Window are now sending their own believers out to plant the word. GA’s Frontline Shepherds leadership conferences impart a vision in pastors' hearts to further the gospel in their region. According to GA’s website, each year the organization hosts and sponsors over one hundred of these conferences around the world. But as the gospel grows throughout the 10/40 Window, so does the resistance. Shibley adds, “There is a tremendous opposition against the gospel. I have met pastors this year who have been imprisoned, who live with constant threats against their lives for simply proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.” (Mission Network News)

MYANMAR: Minority Karen People Flee into Thailand
For nearly twenty-five years refugees from Myanmar have fled into Thailand. According to Patrick Klein of Vision Beyond Borders (VBB), there are currently over 150,000 refugees who have come into Thailand from (Myanmar) Burma, and there are still more flooding across the border. Many of the refugees are of the minority Karen people, who are among the most discriminated against in Myanmar. Klein believes Myanmar’s effort to rid itself of the Karen people is both ethnic and faith-based. Many of the Karen are Christians. In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which devastated the country in early May 2008, Burmese authorities reportedly denied relief aid to several Christians. Klein reported that on his last visit to the area, Myanmar junta soldiers had threatened to kill a group of eighty-six orphaned refugees. The group fled into Thailand in the middle of the night. (Mission Network News)

NEW ZEALAND: Call2Next Generation Gathering Set for January 2010
In January 2010, thousands of university-age students from six continents will gather in Tauranga, New Zealand, at the Bethlehem Institute for the historic Call2All Next Generation Gathering. Mark Anderson, president of Global Pastors Network (GPN) and Call2All said, “Something supernatural is building up for the Call2All Next Generation. Not only is there great excitement, there is a deep sense that God is going to use this gathering to launch a new move towards missions among the next generation.” He noted that the event, scheduled for 19-22 January 2010, will receive thousands of participants from across the world, adding that they've already offered scholarships for the first one thousand delegates from the Developing World. As of November 2009, many of these delegates had already registered. According to Anderson, the Call2All movement began in March 2007, envisioning that the Body of Christ would come together and see the Great Commission fulfilled. The movement grew quickly and in June 2009, the Call2All International Congress was held in Hong Kong with three thousand Christian leaders from more than one hundred countries in attendance. (Assist News Service)

NIGER: CURE to Open Its Eleventh Clinic
In September 2010, Cure International (CURE) will open its eleventh clinic to provide diagnosis and treatment for disabled children and their families. Executive director in Niger, Leron Lehman, says early research into the project showed a generous community welcome. CURE doesn't expect any resistance or opposition to the new clinic, even from the Muslim community. In some locations, sharing the love of Christ through medical care raises hostility. “Early indications, based on some of the relationships we've developed there, are that they're welcoming us with open arms,” Lehman says. “[It] appears that it's a little bit of a different flavor, so to speak, [in the Niger Muslim community] than maybe we've experienced in some of our other hospitals in the Middle East.” (Mission Network News)

PAKISTAN: Christians Freed after Efforts by Life for All
In November 2009, fifty-nine imprisoned Christians in Pakistan were freed, thanks to efforts by the Pakistani-based Christian organization Life for All. The prisoners, who have been in various jails in Pakistan, got the welcome news of their freedom after hard work made by Rizwan Paul, president of Life for All, who had presented a petition to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari for the pardon of these Christians who he stated had been “falsely accused of minor crimes.” Zardari reviewed the petition and approved the release of the prisoners. He vowed to address the release of other prisoners after reviewing the nature of their crimes. It is estimated that more than 2,500 Christians remain in jails all over Pakistan and cannot afford the legal assistance for their release. Many church-based and Christian/Muslim civil society organizations claim to provide legal aid assistance to Christians and other poor people, but the poor in Pakistan still may be implicated on false charges and sent to jail for years. Life for All did not receive local or foreign aid for the release of the fifty-nine Christians. Rizwan stressed that Christian organizations “need to work together for the development of the community” in Pakistan. (Assist News Service)

PHILIPPINES: Cooperation between Protestants, Evangelicals, and Roman Catholics in Bible Translation
Cooperation between Protestants, Evangelicals, and Roman Catholics is growing strong a century after the Bible was translated into a local language in the Philippines, say Christian leaders. “We now come and celebrate together for this great gift of God through which his word, through translation, has become alive in us since one hundred years ago,” said Methodist Bishop Nathanael Lazaro, president of the Philippine Bible Society. Lazaro was speaking on 2 December 2009 during centennial celebrations in Baguio City of the translation of the Bible into Ilokano, one of seven major languages in the Philippines, which has more than eighty languages and dialects. (Ecumenical News International)

SOMALIA: Pastor Attacked Returning Home from Worship Service, Dies
A human rights group has learned that members of al-Shabaab (a Somali Islamic extremist group) have killed yet another leader of an underground church in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu. On 10 October 2009, Pastor Ali Hussein Weheliye was returning home from a worship service when two masked members of al-Shabaab ambushed and shot him. He later died at Darful Shifa Hospital from his wounds. Ali converted from Islam to Christianity in 1999 while working in Somalia's capital as a linguist. In 2002, he started pastoring an underground house church. He is survived by his wife and a daughter who are now in hiding fearing for their lives. Al-Shabaab previously declared Somalia as an Islamic state, vowing to eradicate Christians. Just this year, the group has killed a dozen Somali Christians. Several Christians have also left the country due to the intense persecution. Despite the killings by al-Shabaab, the Somali Church is growing rapidly. (International Christian Concern)

SOMALIA: Young Christian Executed for Trying to Convert a Muslim
In November 2009, Islamic extremists controlling part of the Somali capital of Mogadishu executed a young Christian they accused of trying to convert a 15-year-old Muslim to Christianity. Members of the Islamic extremist group al Shabaab had taken 23-year-old Mumin Abdikarim Yusuf into custody on 28 October 2009 after the 15-year-old boy reported him to the militants, an area source told Compass Direct News (CDN). Al Shabaab, said to have links with al Qaeda terrorists, controls parts of Mogadishu and much of southern parts of Somalia, as well as other areas of the nation. Their accusations against Yusuf had led the extremist group to raid Yusuf's home in Holwadag district, Mogadishu, sources said. After searching his home, militia didn't find anything relating to Christianity but still took him into custody. CDN says that before Yusuf was executed, reports filtered in to the source that he had been badly beaten and his fingers broken as the Islamists tried to extract incriminating evidence against him and information about other Christians. (Assist News Service)

ZIMBABWE: Frontline Fellowship Provides Aid amidst a New Wave of Violence
A new wave of violence is gripping Zimbabwe and Frontline Fellowship is providing books, Bibles, food, and medicine to churches, missions, hospitals, and prisons. Although President Robert Mugabe’s Marxist ZANU-PF government has been repeatedly rejected by voters at elections, the Marxists refuse to step down and people are being beaten, tortured, and killed. (Frontline Fellowship)