Saturday, March 5 – Russia
Even as COVID-19 raged, native missionaries fulfilled their vision of planting a church in a major city. A team of young people started a fellowship in the city a year ago, and it has grown to 60 worshippers.
Local missionaries in Europe are counseling and praying with refugees from Ukraine traumatized by the invasion of their homeland. Besides needing food and other aid, many refugees have suffered the shocks of bombing and artillery fire since Russia invaded in late February. “Pray for their mothers and grandmothers who suffer because they have lost their loved ones, or have their children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters or fathers in the war,” the leader of a local ministry said.
Like most refugees from Afghanistan, Gayana lived in a broken, drafty apartment with no means to keep out the winter cold. To keep herself and her small daughter warm, she had taken the last Bibles and other free Christian literature from a stand outside a church in the Middle East with the intention of burning them in her potbelly stove. “My house was cold, and my little girl was cold,” she said. “In the evening, I took the wood and tore off the Bible pages and threw them into the stove, and they started to burn.”
Kamal had been raised to become a mosque leader in such a strict Islamic home that his religiosity alienated even other Muslims. But since seeing an online ad stating, “God loves you,” he had been reading the Bible on the internet. The university student was in crisis.
Two Christian women told a visiting leader of a native ministry in Vietnam that when they lay in bed at night, they suffered deep dread as they felt the devil’s power – a sensation of cold going from their feet to their heads, cold sweats and uncontrollable shaking. In a country where some tribal people walk on burning coals to demonstrate the power of supernatural evil, the women were desperate for deliverance from demonic attacks. “Please pray for us,” one of the women said. “We don’t know what this is.”
In the five years that local missionaries provided aid to Syrian refugees, Zainab often asked why Christians would bother to help Muslims. In his discussions with them in a Middle Eastern country, the Muslim recently insisted the Bible was corrupted by changes over the centuries – but then he had a dream that both excited and horrified him. Having experienced Christ’s love from the local workers, Zainab was eager to tell the ministry leader about the dream.
In war-ravaged Burma (Myanmar), violence and the pandemic complicate local ministry efforts at a time when they are most needed. A worker recently told a ministry leader that local missionaries and their families had to flee their homes. “He told me that he was one of three pastors who fled with their families to the forest and stayed at a cave, trying to run to a village where they could stay temporarily,” the leader said. “His son, who was 19 years old, was killed by the terrorists.”
Infection from COVID-19 is just one risk local missionaries in Latin America face as they serve the unreached and needy. While the pandemic has increased resistance as villagers fear workers from nearby areas could bring infection, spiritual warfare and persecution are prevalent and gunfire paralyzes some towns. “Armed conflicts in the towns are a problem for the mobility and security of our missionaries,” a ministry leader in Mexico said.
Ahmed was so heavy-hearted and sullen you could see it on his face the moment you looked at him, according to the leader of the local ministry offering the program. What you couldn’t see was that, as he was receiving vocational training in North Africa, Ahmed was carrying a lethal weapon. During a time set aside for a spiritual message at the training, Ahmed heard preaching that led to him revealing why he was carrying the weapon.
Emotionally shattered while recovering at a local ministry’s care center in southern Spain, Natasha prayed after losing the life she’d had in Ukraine’s second largest city.
Leaving her husband behind to defend against the Russian invasion, she and her son had walked most of the nearly 700 miles from their home in Kharkiv to the border, and from there had made it to Spain. “When they left their city, they were only carrying what they were wearing and a backpack each, so during the journey many times they thought they were going to die of the cold,” the ministry leader said.
With unemployment at 55 percent, runaway inflation and more than 60 percent of the population in need of aid, many people in Lebanon are in despair. COVID-19 and a collapsed economy are driving some Muslims to join the Islamic State, but others are finding joy in Christ. “Joy filled the faces and the hearts of those who were getting baptized as they worshiped the Lord and presented their testimonies,” the leader of a native ministry said.
“Where are you going every Sunday – have you become a Christian?” a Muslim father in the Middle East asked his teenage son. The father had noticed him leaving the house each Sunday. The boy knew that his answer would lead to punishment and possible expulsion from his home. “I knew I couldn’t deny my heavenly Father – I was aware that if I denied my heavenly Father, I would lose eternal life with Him,” he said.
Muslim villagers in West Africa saw a local missionary as someone who could bring shame on their families by steering relatives away from Islam. Others found his teaching laughable. Laughing or scorning, the villagers took a dim view of Christians and Christianity in a country where Islamic extremist violence against churches was on the rise. The brutal murder of the worker marked a turning point in the community attitude toward Christians.
Christian Aid Mission seeks to establish a witness for Christ in every nation by assisting indigenous ministries based in areas of poverty and persecution, giving priority to ministries sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with unreached people groups. Today, we work with hundreds of indigenous ministries in eight regions of the world that share the gospel with more than 2,000 unreached people groups.
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