Weekly Global News
Updated Every Week
Last update: June 13, 2013
Egypt: Practicing 'Legal' Discrimination Against Christians (ODM) ― Since the Arab Spring in Egypt, things have gotten increasingly worse for Christians. Despite promises of equality, a new draft constitution was adopted without Christian input, and many reports are surfacing of a newer "legal" form of persecution: religious discrimination. According to Open Doors, it's harder than ever to find a job in Egypt, where the unemployment rate has risen to a record 13%. For young Egyptians, the jobless rate is much higher. For out-of-work Christians, finding a job can be especially tough. They are 10% of a country where Islam is the state religion. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party holds the highest offices in the government. When quarreling citizens arrive at legal loggerheads, the new constitution turns to Islamic law to resolve the impasse. Along with measures to instill government fiscal discipline, the IMF says "The most immediate challenges are to...protect the most vulnerable segments of the population." Longer term, the report urges Egypt to enact "structural reform" that results in "more socially balanced growth." At ground level, Egyptian Christians use a more personal language to describe their place in the economy. Publicly criticizing a system they view as favoring Muslims, they said, would only make the long odds against finding a job even longer. Harassment, discrimination, and financial incentives for Christians to adopt Islam are used to break the morale of Christians. Some areas, such as Upper Egypt, face more intense pressure than others do. Believers from Muslim backgrounds tend to receive much of the persecution.
Sub-Saharan Africa: 10,000 Buckets For HIV/AIDS Ministry (Mission Network News) ― Mention HIV/AIDS, and people can tend to tune out. But for several families in Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS isn’t just a distant disease. With 2 million people dying each year to HIV/AIDS, there’s a sense of urgency for ministry. Baptist Global Response sees a desperate need for quality care and the Gospel for HIV/AIDS patients in Sub-Saharan Africa. That’s why they have the Bucket Project putting together hospice kits. Churches and organizations can pack a 5-gallon bucket with things like plastic gloves for caregivers, vitamins, changing pads, and bed sheets. These buckets are sent to BGR national partners. The partners take the buckets into homes and show the families how to care for their loved one with HIV/AIDS. Palmer with BGR explains, “[It’s] basically a hygiene kit to help the caregivers who are going to take care of those who are dying at home, to die in a way that gives them some dignity and show that somebody in the world cares for them.” Palmer explains how your church can get involved. “We ask the churches who pack the buckets here in the states: as you pack it and close that bucket, you pray over it for the person who is going to receive it.... Then, when that bucket gets there, a caregiver who is a believer…[will] share with the family, saying, ‘This bucket was packed for you by a group of Christians in the United States and they wanted to demonstrate God’s love for you.’ Then they pray over it and open it up.” “At that point it opens up all kinds of ways for witnessing that can share the love of God, the compassion of Christ to bless them.
Nigeria: CRI Ramping Ministry With Distribution Center (Mission Network News) ― Christian Resources International (CRI) is adding a new tab to their ministry binder with a book distribution center in Nigeria. The distribution center is more than a new building; it’s a method CRI has never used before in Nigeria to get Bibles and Christian books to those who need them. “We’re waiting to send our first-ever container to that distribution center. The container will hold about $400,000 of free Bibles and Christian teaching tools that we will be able to give out for free all over Nigeria, using the distribution center and busing systems to have packages delivered to those in remote areas,” says CRI Executive Director Jason Woolford. But why Nigeria? 70% of Nigeria’s population lives below the poverty line, according to 2010 estimates by the CIA World Factbook. Often, it takes up to 2 months of salary to buy a Bible or Christian teaching book in developing countries. “Sometimes we forget because we have constant internet [and] we have an abundance of books. This is not the way it is in a majority of Africa, Asia, and other areas. People don’t have the means as they make less than a dollar a day sometimes to pay a cable bill for nonstop internet,” says Woolford. “Where we might have access to the Bible electronically, other people don’t have that. So when they receive a used copy of God’s Word, it is like gold to them."
Bangladesh: Tractor-Tillers Bring A Bright Future To Rural Farmers (Mission Network News) ― Farmers in the Chittagong Hills of Bangladesh are getting an upgrade. Since 1996, FARMS International has partnered with local churches in the Chittagong Hills to provide income-generating loans for poor Christian families. Through FARMS loans, believers were given a shot at earning an honest and sustainable income. Now, FARMS is taking it a step further with their new Tractor-Tiller Program. FARMS Executive Director Joseph Richter says “these two-wheeled, diesel-powered machines are a common sight in Asia. They're used for obvious purposes, like tilling fields, as well as towing anything from carts to fertilizer.” "In fact, the motor many times is hooked up to a rice mill and can be used to power that, or an irrigation pump," Richter adds. The problem lies in how to obtain said handy hardware. In most villages, believers have to rent tractor-tillers at an enormous cost, thereby cancelling any profit that could be gained from the harvest. But by owning tractor-tillers, families wouldn't have to worry about rent. And, by renting out this equipment to fellow believers at a fair price, everyone could benefit at a lesser overall cost. For a culture that depends on agriculture for existence, these tractor-tillers will be a HUGE benefit. They'll help the Church, too. "Part of the loan requirement is that they agree to tithe back into their local church from the profits," Richter explains. "This has tremendously helped the hill tribe community and especially the churches in that area." Through tithes given by FARMS-assisted families, indigenous congregations can fund church-planting endeavors, outreach projects, or ordinary operating expenses.
Syria: OM Near East Teams Involved In Relief Projects (Mission Network News) ― Since Syria's civil war began over two years ago, reports from this region mostly center on death and destruction. For example, earlier this week we told you about the battle raging over Qusair. As of Wednesday, government forces had taken the city. How this will play out in the overall war remains to be seen. But today, we've got a change of pace regarding news from Syria. Operation Mobilization (OM) says the Gospel is making headway. In a recent report, OM says their Near East teams are partnering with 6 churches and Christian groups in Syria, along with 23 in Lebanon, to implement relief projects. Since January, around 1,300 families each month have received aid and assistance. Typical aid consists of food packs and winterization packs, though OM's role with these partners is much larger: training, equipping, resourcing, and ongoing support and help. Most relationships between OM and partnering groups existed "long before the Syrian crisis began." While OM's support of relief efforts is encouraging, the spiritual progress they report is even more impressive. Believers helped by OM say there's a growing hunger for Christ among Syrians from Muslim backgrounds. Some families say Jesus is the only positive thing in their children's lives. Families are asking for Christian programs for their kids. "Our children have nothing positive in their lives," they tell OM. "Please come and teach them how to sing and tell them about God." In an area where OM teams brought food to IDPs residing in a school, they discovered some families were hearing the Gospel for the first time.