This is Whyte House Report podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Mission Network News, Horizons International works in Lebanon with a focus on evangelism, discipleship, and training. But in this economic collapse, the ministry’s Middle East Center for World Missions launched a new initiative connecting Lebanese believers with Western companies and ministries for remote employment. Pierre Houssney with Horizons International says, “There are a lot of really highly educated and capable men and women of God who have a lot to offer on the world scale, but they don’t have job opportunities and the money that they’re receiving in the local currency for their current jobs is just not enough to even start paying their most basic bills because it has just lost all of its value. “We’re working with Western companies and also ministries to provide accounting, graphic design, web development, social media management, [and] all kinds of different services. We can be providing a living wage to Middle Easterners so they can tough it out in the Middle East right now, and specifically Lebanon during this economic collapse.” Houssney says providing these job opportunities to church members in Lebanon has a direct impact on the Great Commission in the Middle East. “The Christian presence in these Muslim-dominated areas is one of the most strategic things for reaching the Muslims for Christ,” says Houssney. “So not only are we providing jobs for these people to be able to put food on the table so that they can remain in the Middle East, we’re also training them for ministry. We’re helping them to equip their churches, to be supporting their churches and families, and this is all part of our strategy for reaching the region for Christ.” The Middle East Center has partnered with over 90 Lebanese churches, “which is most of the churches in Lebanon because there’s only about 105 churches in Lebanon,” Houssney says. The language barrier between Lebanese employees and Western companies is a consideration. But many in Lebanon speak English and have done well in markets around the world. For those who come to Horizons International’s Middle East Center and want English lessons, the ministry connects them with the Language Academy of Beirut.
According to Mission Network News, As you celebrate Christmas seasonwith your family tonight, pray for those who desperately need the hope and encouragement of Christ. Ron Hutchcraft Ministries holds a Winter Break Conference for the On Eagles Wings team starting Monday. “There are a lot of conferences and youth retreats,” founder Ron Hutchcraft says. “I’ve never known one more important than our Winter Break Conference because of the battles these young men and women fight for their faith.” On Eagles Wings (OEW) is a team of Native young people bringing Jesus to reservations in the United States and Canada. Gathering for a short time before the new year begins helps the believers reconnect and refocus. “When we get them together, it is critical to remind them of the hope that Jesus is for the hard things in their life,” Hutchcraft says. “[It also reminds them,] ‘I am not alone. I might be alone at home. But I am ultimately not alone in loving and living for Christ’.”
According to Mission Network News, New collaborative efforts will bring Jesus to Central Asia in 2022. Greg Yoder of Keys for Kids Ministries explains, “We just finalized an agreement with Forgotten Missionaries International. We’ll be reaching families within Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.” Rich in kid-centered resources, Keys for Kids will provide tools for indigenous church planters and pastors trained by FMI. The combination is invaluable in a region where the Church is flourishing, but there’s not enough discipleship material to go around. “Iran and Afghanistan, per capita, is probably the largest growth in Christianity in the world [but] they don’t have any resources to help moms and dads disciple their kids,” Yoder says. “If we had everything done right now, we could place 5,000 Storytellers in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. The real need is about 10,000.” Pray for wisdom as believers translate Keys for Kids and Unlocked devotionals from English into Pashtu, Urdu, and Farsi.
According to Mission Network News, Hunger in Latin American and the Caribbean has reached its highest point in 15 years. Over 59 million people face food insecurity around the region. That’s an increase of 13.8 million since 2019 according to a UN report. The report calls this increase, “the most pronounced rise in relation to other world regions.” The COVID-19 pandemic and transportation disruptions have made this situation worse, says Brian Dennett with AMG International. “I spoke to our national director in Guatemala, for example, yesterday. He shared that just the cost of all of their basic staples like beans, rice, and corn, is through the roof. At the moment, an estimated 1/5 of their country is hungry.” As the problem gets worse, AMG has shifted its ministry focus towards feeding the hungry in Jesus’ name. Dennett says, “So in Latin America, we have fed tens of thousands over the last year, and we continue to do that. We feel the best way to do that is not by sending things down, but by purchasing locally and helping local economies in that way. For those who want to donate, we will be purchasing lots more food and helping the hungry, while also sharing the Gospel.” Ask God to provide for people in these regions, and find your place in this story.
According to Mission Network News, The Islamic regime in Iran seeks even more power over religious minorities. As described here, Iran is planting leaders inside different faith groups to protect and advance its interests. “Iranians have opened up with great thirst and hunger towards the Scripture. The Iranian population is open for change,” says Pastor Lazarus*. “It’s this evil regime that [is] hostile. Not only to Christianity, but they’re hostile to democracy, religious liberty; they’re hostile to freedom.” Pastor Lazarus leads 222 Ministries, a church planting ministry in Iran. They’re partnering with unfoldingWord to translate God’s Word into minority languages. More about that here. “There are many scholars in Iran who are disillusioned with their faith! Some are eager to participate in our effort, in translating God’s word into the ethnic languages of Iran. We believe they will meet the resurrected Christ, as they translate His word!” Pastor Lazarus says.
According to Mission Network News, Armed gunmen stormed into a Christian conference near Moscow, Russia. They pulled men, women, and children to the ground and kicked several pastors. The attendees thought terrorists were attacking them. In reality, these were officers from the Russian Federal Security Service. Floyd Brobbel with the Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, “The leaders of this conference said they set up everything legally. And everything was good to go. There shouldn’t have been a problem or a backlash like they were facing from these security forces. But it seems to me that there’s some confusion. Earlier in the year, new amendments were made to the religious legislation. And this legislation, it’s a bit difficult to understand.” These new laws target extremist religious groups or the financing of terrorism. Brobbel says, “So part of that makes sense, right? You don’t want groups financing terrorism. But what does it mean to be involved in an extremist religion?” The legislation also targets “undesirable foreigners,” saying they cannot lead a religious group. This designation also leads to confusion. Brobbel says, “Those religious leaders trained overseas have to be recertified and retrained in Russia. Churches must register with governments on a yearly basis.
According to Mission Network News, New Gospel opportunities have emerged in Ethiopia. World Missionary Press (WMP) Scripture booklets are the tools believers need to walk through these open doors. In an earlier update, WMP’s national coordinator wrote, “Literature is the way many people’s lives are changed for the better.” “He calls [the material] a ‘shining light’ for people in rural areas that have never heard the name of Jesus. [From] the Muslim girl who has no way of reading the Word of God, [to] those that have backed away from God and need encouragement to come back,” WMP Freight Coordinator Helen Williams says. “Literature is essential to reach countries like Ethiopia.” Believers tell World Missionary Press the Scripture booklets are especially effective in Muslim outreach. One leader set up tables around his city when churches were closed earlier this year due to the pandemic. He left hundreds of Scripture booklets on these tables so people could encounter the Gospel. “They took it as fast as he could put it on the table. The literature stays with them, and it speaks [to them] over and over because it’s the Word [of God],” Williams says.
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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.