2020 Olympic Games Come to an End (Whyte House Report 8.8.21)

This is Whyte House Report podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to Mission Network News, The rescheduled 2020 Olympic Games are wrapping up this weekend in Tokyo, Japan. Closing ceremonies begin Sunday at 8 pm local time following the men’s water polo final. No matter the sport, an athlete’s journey to the Olympics is arduous and expensive. Greg Yoder, Executive Director of Keys for Kids Ministries, says the Olympic Games hold a lesson for Christian parents. “I saw a story about a young man who was a gymnast; he got the passion and ‘the bug’ to be an Olympian, and his parents sacrificed so much to get him to where he is today,” Yoder says. “I couldn’t help but think, ‘Wow, as Christian parents, we should be as passionate about seeing our kids not only know Jesus but following Jesus.’” Just as every Olympic athlete needs a good coach, every child needs someone to teach them the ways of Christ. Discipleship begins at home, but “so many families don’t know how to begin that process, and that’s where Keys for Kids Ministries comes in,” Yoder says. Keys for Kids produces free daily devotionals for children and teens, and you can get them in audio or print.

According to Mission Network News, You may have heard the name SpaceX or Starlink a few times in this summer’s headlines. Wycliffe USA’s Andrew Flemming says the project benefits Gospel work, too. “SpaceX intends to launch thousands of these (satellites) around the globe… by using this technology, we’re going to be able to get the translation work being done in very remote places to consultants, to teams… that we previously weren’t able to do easily,” Flemming says. “God is taking these types of tools and using them to accelerate the work of Bible translation and dramatically impact the future of communities around the world.” It isn’t the first time Bible translators found advantages in outer space. “Wycliffe has used satellites in the past, but these have been geostationary or geocentric satellites. The SpaceX Starlink satellites will provide more significant access and quicker speed,” Flemming says. “We’ve begun testing this in the U.S. The hope is that within the next 18 months, two years, the fuller network of satellites will be in place, which will give us access to those most remote places in the world.”

According to Mission Network News, Hit first by COVID-19 and then a bloody coup that has brought ongoing violence, local missionaries in Burma (Myanmar) are bringing light to unprecedented depths of darkness. With some civilians dressed as soldiers and some soldiers dressed as civilians, it is often impossible to know who is responsible for ongoing acts of terrorism, the leader of a native ministry said. “The situation is very bad – we are in a battlefield, every day there is killing,” he said. “We have bombs exploding everywhere. It is very risky to go outside. If it is not necessary, we dare not go out.” Since the military took over the country on Feb. 1, most workers stay inside, fearing for their lives. The hunger that nearly a year of COVID-19 lockdowns brought grew more acute as indiscriminate killings left people even more isolated, and local missionaries and those they were serving would not have survived without support from Christian Aid Mission donors. “After this coup, everybody is frightened, so we pray – I think everybody is praying more than before,” the ministry leader said. “Because everybody has no work, no job, no office, nothing, it encourages us to love each other. We are more united, so we share things with our church members. In our church, when someone doesn’t have food, we call each other and we share with each other. We show Christian love more.”

According to Mission Network News, Nigeria’s government is considering a bill that would criminalize ransom payments for the return of abducted schoolchildren. On paper, the government condemns the practice. However, authorities regularly exchange cash for kids, making abduction a lucrative business. On July 5, armed men attacked Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna state and kidnapped more than 100 students. Since December, it’s reportedly the 10th mass kidnapping, and more than 80 Baptist students remain in captivity. Officials suspended all schooling statewide for another three weeks due to insecurity. Attackers have kidnapped more than 1,000 students so far this year. President/CEO of TransWorld Radio Lauren Libby says it’s all part of a broader battle for control of Nigeria. “Power is the issue; who gets power? It’s not the government necessarily; it’s the extremists who are fighting each other,” Libby says. “I deeply respect our brothers and sisters who live in that part of the world. They are true martyrs.” Boko Haram has been wreaking havoc in northern Nigeria for more than a decade. Nonetheless, “the Church in Nigeria is probably as strong as it’s ever been,” Libby says. “When the Church is under persecution, that’s when they get very strong.” The Islamic State and Fulani herdsmen also endanger Christian communities. Last week, Fulani herdsmen killed a Christian pastor they kidnapped earlier in the month. Living under constant threat doesn’t get easier with time. Yet, God uses TWR’s ministry to redeem those who persecute His followers. Shortly before the pandemic began last year, TWR installed a powerful new transmitter to reach communities in northern Nigeria.

According to Mission Network News, Many Christian schools in Lebanon have classes made up of mostly Muslim children. Wissam Nasrallah of LSESD says this isn’t a problem. Children come to schools like Beirut Baptist School for high-quality education. They also get to see the love of Jesus in action. Nasrallah says, “We’re committed to providing education to the community that is Christian but also excellent. This has been a landmark of evangelical schools to serve students from all faith backgrounds and all social classes, regardless of belief or status. This is a legacy that we have in Lebanon. It started with Protestant Presbyterian missionaries in the 19th century and Catholic missions.” These students even take classes about the Bible and attend chapels with their parent’s knowledge, Nasrallah says. It all stems from the trust Christians have built in the community. And that trust is needed right now, during COVID-19 and the current financial crisis in Lebanon. Nasrallah says, “Our resilience has been stretched thin. At one point we even wondered if we could keep on going. So what we need today is a lot of prayer for patience, wisdom, and discernment to make the right decisions. We want to be able to find favor and grace in the eyes of the community that we are serving.”

According to Mission Network News, After Thursday’s presidential ceremony, Islamic hardliners will control all branches of Iran’s civilian government. Reza* with Global Catalytic Ministries says the outlook for Iranian Christians isn’t good, but there’s a silver lining. “The outpouring is going to come inside of Iran, but it’s going to be through persecution. As they persecute, God is going to move even more powerfully,” he explains. “People [often] pray that the Iranian government gets overthrown [or] a revolution happens, and I tell people, ‘No, pray it gets worse because as they [apply] more pressure, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit comes on stronger and more prevalent.” Iranian Christians could face even more legal persecution in the days to come. On Friday, Iranian judges gave themselves more power over Christian cases. Earlier this summer, judges sentenced the first believers to five-year prison terms under controversial new amendments. “It’s the fastest-growing church in the world; the Iranian government knows this. Also, they know that next door to them, Afghanistan is the second-fastest-growing church in the world,” Reza says. “They’re very terrified of this, so they’re going do something to stop it, or at least try.”

According to Mission Network News, China will keep its borders closed for another year, concerned about spiking COVID-19 cases and variants in surrounding countries. It means a longer wait for China Partner to visit the country. But Erik Burklin says, “We were on a WeChat call with a pastor up in the northern part of China. We had visited him I think two years ago. We asked him specifically, ‘How was 2020 been for you as a church?’ And he said it’s been somewhat frustrating. They had to close down for a while. But the ministry continues. And then I asked them, ‘How many baptisms Did you have of new believers last year?’ and he said, ‘In our whole city, combining all the churches that I oversee, about 300.’” While China has had restrictive religious laws on the books for a long time, the current government has been enforcing them more often. Ask God to give Chinese Christians wisdom as they navigate these changes.

You can read these stories and more at Whytehousereport.com

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless you.