Monday, March 30, 2015

From ChinaAid: "Wives of Hualin Kindergarten defendants write letters about experiences following husbands' detention"

The China Aid Association is a non-profit Christian organization - based in Midland, Texas - with a mission to uncover and reveal the truth about religious persecution in China, focusing especially on the unofficial church. They do this, they explain in their website, by exposing the abuses, encouraging the abused and equipping the saints to advance the kingdom of God throughout China.

Wives of Hualin Kindergarten defendants write letters about experiences following husbands' detention
Distributed by ChinaAid, February, 2015 ...

LIUZHO, GUANXI, CHINA – The wives of two defendants in the Hualin Kindergarten case, in which four are accused of “illegal business operations” for their involvement with character-improvement books compiled by the church that founded the school, wrote letters, recounting their experiences and feelings from the time their husbands’ were detained up to the opening of the trial ...

more on this story from China Aid  

From @austinseminary ... Devotional for Holy Week: Monday

Written by professors, graduates, and others in the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary community, these reflections, prayers, and spiritual practices will take you along the journey with Jesus through the cross toward resurrection.


Holy Week: Monday
Monday, March 30, 2015

Psalm 145
John 12:1–11


I sympathize with Judas. And not because I’m a thief: I’m just a Presbyterian. Our Book of Order speaks of “a faithful stewardship that shuns ostentation and seeks proper use of the gifts of God’s creation” (F-2.05), and I’ve always been suspicious of the extravagant gesture and always concerned to use things—or even time—in a way that is practical and productive. I, too, would shudder at pouring out all that perfume without accomplishing something more tangible and necessary than just making a house smell good.

But even if Judas’ concern for the poor had been sincere, Jesus’ response might have been the same. “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” Mary bought the perfume for Jesus’ burial. Death is a powerful reminder that some moments are sacred; they must be attended to now, for they will not come again. And while Scripture calls us to care for the poor and vulnerable, it isn’t a competition. True caring grows as we grasp the deep truth that all of us are lovingly created children of God. What we do in any given moment may not change the world. But the joy, tenderness, compassion, and even beauty found in an extravagant gesture of love will forever be a part of who we are.

I am the mother of two young children, constantly torn between my never-ending “to do” list and giving myself over to their play. When I do turn my full attention to the children, the delight and wonder can be overwhelming. To momentarily set everything else aside and fully embrace that joy is, for me, an act of praise. Sometimes, yes, the chores must be done, but the chores will always be with me, and this is a fleeting time of life.

Our church hosts a weekly breakfast, begun with the primary goal of providing food for those in need. But as the fellowship and sense of community among guests and hosts have grown, we’ve discovered something more important. When one guest marked a milestone birthday—a day that would have passed unacknowledged if not for this small community singing and celebrating— when we saw what that meant to him, we began to better understand that “Man does not live by bread alone.” And many of us have witnessed at the other end of life, as death creeps near, when a spouse or child lovingly washes a face or sits and holds a hand. All else is put on hold to attend to this person, a moment steeped in the presence and promise of God.

We will move on to the more practical tasks of discipleship — we must — but let us also embrace these fleeting, sacred moments, with wonder and adoration and praise.

God of each and every moment, help us to attend to the sacredness in our everyday lives. Help us to attend to those fleeting moments when we discover and honor your presence through our love for one another. Amen.

– The Reverend Ann Herlin (MDiv’01)
Associate pastor, Old Presbyterian Meeting House, Alexandria, Virginia, and Member of the Austin Seminary Board of Trustees



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You can make a gift online:



For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.


Today in the Mission Yearbook: March 30, 2015

PRESBYTERY OF TRES RIOS, TEXAS - ur mission team traveled to Colombia in December 2013—part of a decade-long partnership between our West Texas presbytery and the Presbyterian Church of Colombia (IPC).

In Barranquilla we renewed old friendships and were briefed on the significant progress toward peace and reconciliation in Colombia. Our brothers and sisters in the IPC have been crucial to this progress, but much work remains to ensure that they achieve peace with justice ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Day 14"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 14"

"Jesus’ followers are called to peace. When Jesus called them, they found their peace. Jesus is their peace. Now they are not only to have peace, but they are to make peace. To do this they renounce violence and strife. Those things never help the cause of Christ. Christ’s kingdom is a realm of peace, and those in Christ’s community greet each other with a greeting of peace. Jesus’ disciples maintain peace by choosing to suffer instead of causing others to suffer. They preserve community when others destroy it. They renounce self-assertion and are silent in the face of hatred and injustice. That is how they overcome evil with good. That is how they are makers of divine peace in a world of hatred and war."

Biblical Wisdom

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

Questions to Ponder

What impact would it have on our culture of violence if individual Christians and churches were to “renounce violence and strife” as a mark of true discipleship?
How might being “silent in the face of hatred and injustice” be compatible with non-violent resistance to evil?
Why can violence never help the cause of Christ’s kingdom?


Psalm Fragment

“Which of you desires life,
and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.”
Psalm 34:1-12


Journal Reflections

Have you ever thought deeply on the fact that your call to follow Jesus is a call to peace? Reflect in your journal on how that realization makes you feel. Any actions suggest themselves?
Think of any people with whom you are in conflict or tension. Reflect on what might happen if the next time you met them you greeted them with a “greeting of peace.”
What experiences of peacemaking have you had? Reflect on what it felt like to be a peacemaker.


Intercessions

Pray for all politicians and government leaders that they might “renounce violence and strife” and embrace peacemaking as a priority at all levels of government.


Prayer for Today

God of peace, you give me peace, now teach me to be a peacemaker.


From @austinseminary ... Devotional for Palm Sunday

Written by professors, graduates, and others in the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary community, these reflections, prayers, and spiritual practices will take you along the journey with Jesus through the cross toward resurrection.


Palm Sunday
Sunday, March 29, 2015

Psalm 125
Luke 19:28–40


Let the record show that on the day of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the suspect proceeded to ride a colt down the center of the street at a slow pace and stirred up the people. When the suspect was confronted by authorities for disturbing the peace, the people became aggressive and Jesus himself became defiant, saying “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

“Stirring up the people.” This, according to Luke 23:5, is the official reason Jesus was taken into custody. They tried time and time again to make trumped-up criminal charges stick, but even after they brought Jesus into custody, Pilate “examined him … “and found no basis for your charges against him” (23:14). Jesus never committed a crime, but was still cast as criminal par excellence when the empire’s leading lawyers, preachers, and politicians surrounded him with a spectacle of mockery and accusation. Why? They said it was because he was caught disturbing the peace, stirring up the people just outside of Jerusalem. This can only mean, of course, that the people were asleep. To stir them is to wake them, to stir them might create a movement.

The truth of the gospel was doing the unthinkable in one of the tiny outskirts of the Roman Empire. It was bringing to life an entity not known in Rome for some 270 years, during the days of the Roman Republic: the people. The Roman concept was a flawed idea, to be sure, excluding women and slaves, but was nonetheless an antique symbol of freedom. With the decline of Roman democracy and the rise of the rule of Augustus, ordinary Roman citizens had long forgotten themselves and now wore the masks of slaves. However, Jesus’ gospel had begun to challenge all this. Perhaps due to his experiences as a darker skinned brother, Jesus’ gospel had a vision that included women, slaves, and all sorts of other curious characters. His ministry emphasized justice and generosity toward the poor and neighborly love. And such a gospel disturbed the imperial peace.

Today, as we remember Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem so long ago, and prepare for his coming yet again, we also remember that one sign of Jesus’ presence was a stirred-up people and a disturbed imperial peace. This season, let the good news of Jesus stir us toward justice and generosity toward the poor and toward neighborly love.

There is in every person an inward sea, and in that sea there is an island and on that Island there is an altar … Nothing [is] placed upon your altar unless it be a part of ‘the fluid area of your consent.’ This is your crucial link with the Eternal.

– Mr. Asante Todd (MDiv’06)
Instructor, Christian Ethics



Our mission depends upon your generosity.
You can make a gift online:



For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.


Today in the Mission Yearbook: March 29, 2015

MINUTE FOR MISSION: JUSTICE ADVOCACY - The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness (OPW) in Washington, DC, is responsible for advocating social justice policies approved by the General Assembly that have implications for the federal government.

Presbyterian work in justice advocacy began with John Calvin, who was ahead of his time in advocating for public education in 16th-century Geneva, Switzerland. Calvin underscored Jesus’ resolve to address and even confront earthly powers during his ministry. Similarly, Presbyterians today are called to remind elected officials that their role as public servants is a calling to prophesy, not to profiteer ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

WAW Weekend: Help Us Save Lives in Belize

"The Word at Work is a ministry that mobilizes churches and individuals to answer God's call to minister to those in need," writes Rev. Tim Tam, Director of the Amarillo, Texas-based ministry. "Through our relationships, God reveals needs and opportunities for service. As we come along side the poor, new friendships develop and doors for ministry open. As we serve, God provides the resources to supply for the needs he reveals."


Help Us Save Lives in Belize

Friends,
*** We have been given a great blessing that
will help save infants and adults in Belize! ***

We were recently made aware that KHMH, the hospital in Belize City, is in DIRE NEED of ventilators ... The Pediatric physician at KHMH shares, "We are being put in the extreme position of having to play God, deciding who will live or die based on our lack of this equipment. Nurses are literally taking shifts 24 / 7 to manually ventilate patients."

A donor has come forward with ventilators that can be shipped immediately to Belize in a container that will also hold a vehicle donated to Belize Hospice & Palliative Care Foundation, hospital beds, oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies that are so scarce in Belize. The container is ready to ship from Arlington, Texas - would you please help us get it shipped right away? Cost of shipping this priceless equipment is $8,000 USD ...would you consider asking your small group of Sunday school class to help us? Please email me if you can help.

We've had an incredibly blessed couple of weeks here in Belize with several teams coming alongside our Belizean partners in powerful ways. Today I want to highlight our ongoing water project ... it's our goal to make Belize the first country in the world to have potable water for every person. We recently received a call from St. Margaret's Village Chairman pleading for help as many in their community were ill due to lack of clean water. Our response was swift and members of two teams traveled with Jose Valencia to deliver filters to over 200 families.



 Another team will return next week to deliver 40 more filters ... BUT, more and most importantly, this community has heard the Good News of Christ and the Living Water only He can provide. These filters are a unique and meaningful tool to change lives! The Chairman called Jose last night to thank us for bringing fresh water to his village and he said the families are incredibly happy! Thank you for helping make our goal a reality. Please let me know if you would like to help us in this outreach, we'll have more filters going out with teams over the summer!!


The King's Children's Home is gathering eggs ... lots of them! The layers are producing over 100 eggs a day! Thank you to everyone who helped make this dream a reality!! (We hear there are a couple of turkeys, too; and 100 broiler chicks are settling in to their new home!)

This month we've also been blessed by the work of long-term volunteers Marilyn Stewart and Kent Sappenfield, and team leader/videographer Kurt Oheim. We are inspired by their service and love for Belize! Is God calling you?? I'd love to talk more with you about where you can serve!

Our Board of Directors has just completed a whirlwind tour in Belize, meeting our partners and getting updated on project progress ... would you please lift them in prayer as they continue to work and discern God's will for The Word at Work? Thanks


TT (Tim Tam) The Word at Work

ps: Our Ministry Associate team gathers school supplies, toys, and stuffed animals through out the year ... we've discovered blankets are an ongoing need as well, so please be saving them, too. Click here to learn more about becoming a TW@W Ministry Associate, or get in touch with Tim Hagen for more information!


EDITOR'S NOTE: Speaking from my own first-hand experience - working side-by-side with Tim, Kenny and our brothers and sisters in Belize - won't you give thoughtful, prayerful consideration to supporting the efforts of Tim, the Word At Work staff and their partners? Please please fill out this Commitment Card and return it to their office!

Also, remember that you can follow The Word At Work on their Facebook page!

In the News ... Holy Week Services and Easter Events Calendar"

MRT Photo by James Durbin
• Submit YOUR services and events for this calendar

Staff Report
Midland Reporter-Telegram

ODESSA/MIDLAND, TEXAS - Churches around Midland are hosting Holy Week and Easter services and programs this week. To add your event to this list, please email Megan Buck at mbuck@mrt.com ...

visit the MRT calendar

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Day 13"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 13"

"Who is pure in heart? Only those who have completely given their hearts to Jesus, so that he alone rules in them. Only those who do not stain their hearts with their own evil, but also not with their own good. A pure heart is the simple heart of a child, who does not know about good and evil, the heart of Adam before the fall, the heart in which the will of Jesus rules instead of one’s own conscience.… A pure heart is pure of good and evil; it belongs entirely and undivided to Christ; it looks only to him, who goes on ahead. Those alone will see God who in this life have looked only to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Their hearts are free of defiling images; they are not pulled back and forth by the various wishes and intentions of their own. Their hearts are fully absorbed in seeing God. They will see God whose hearts mirror the image of Jesus Christ."

Biblical Wisdom

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

Questions to Ponder

How is it possible to live in our complex world and still give your heart “completely” to Jesus?
What does it mean to say that people can “stain their hearts…with their own good”?
How would those whose “hearts mirror the image of Jesus Christ” relate to other people, both friends and strangers?


Psalm Fragment

“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.”
Psalm 24:3-5


Journal Reflections

Bonhoeffer wrote that: “A pure heart is the simple heart of a child…” Think back to when you were a child. How did you see things differently as a child than you do now as an adult?
What, if any, are the “defiling images” that stand between you and the vision of God? How might you begin to cleanse your heart of them?
What, if any, are your various “wishes and intentions” that pull you “back and forth” and prevent you from seeing God? How might you begin to become free of them?


Intercessions

Pray for all the children that you know (and then pray for all children) that they would be protected from the “defiling images” culture tries to entice them with.


Prayer for Today

Lord, help me to will one thing: to belong entirely and undividedly to you.


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.


Today in the Mission Yearbook: March 28, 2015

PRESBYTERY OF SOUTH LOUISIANA - The Louisiana coast has the fastest-disappearing delta in the world, having lost land equivalent to the size of Delaware. Damaged ecosystems include vast fisheries that extend to the Atlantic Ocean, habitat for migratory birds, and small farming and fishing communities.

The Wetlands Theological Education Project was created two years ago to address this social, ecological, and spiritual crisis through theological discussion, public advocacy, and hands-on projects and other tangible response ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

Friday, March 27, 2015

From ServLife International: "Laxmi's Luck"

ServLife International is a movement defined by values of God’s kingdom, not programs built around human efforts and activities. The reign and rule of God should be made apparent to every person on the planet, despite their religion, race or socioeconomic status. We believe that issues of justice are inseparable from the good news that Jesus Christ came to proclaim. ServLife exists to take the gospel of Christ and the hope of a better, more just, world to the lives of people we touch. This happens through individual contributions of time, creativity, resources and dreams.



Laxmi's Luck

Laxmi is named after the Hindu goddess of fortune, love, and prosperity. However, due to her family’s misfortune and her gender, Laxmi has spent her life fighting being labeled as bad luck.

When Laxmi was two and a half years old her father was killed in an automobile accident while working in India. Severely affected by the death of her husband, Laxmi’s mother became mentally unstable and began suffering from night blindness. Because they occurred after her birth, Laxmi’s highly superstitious family blamed these hardships on Laxmi being a jinx.

After her father’s death, Laxmi’s mother sent Laxmi and her three siblings to live with their uncle. He was able to provide the bare necessities for the family, but Laxmi still describes life there as a financial struggle. “My uncle sent my brothers to school but later when I grew I was not to go to school because my uncle thought that it was not necessary for a girl to attend school, and moreover he did not want to waste extra tuition fees on someone else’s child.” Laxmi says, “So, I was sent to look after goats and collect grass for my uncle’s cattle.”


When she was 8 years old Laxmi’s uncle wanted to send her to an orphanage to reduce his expenses. Laxmi Baduwal 1 copy“One evening when I came back with the goats (ServLife Children’s Director) Udaya was there to pick me up to take me to an orphanage, but I was scared and I cried a lot. I did not want to go because what would a girl of 8 know when somebody comes to take her from where she called a home?” Laxmi describes. Fortunately, this scary experience was a turning point in Laxmi’s life.

Director Udaya saw that Laxmi did not want to go to the children’s home. Wanting to keep her family together, he decided to fill their real need. He set up a scholarship for Laxmi’s education and enrolled her in a local school. After 7 years of support, Laxmi is now 15 and studying in grade 5. Life is still sometimes a struggle. Laxmi’s conservative Hindu family makes her sleep outside the home during monthly menstruation because at that time women are “untouchable.”


There is very little to go around and ServLife is supplementing Laxmi with other needs such as clothing, as well as providing her scholarship. But despite all this Laxmi is thriving. “I am getting those things that I need which the ones around me are supposed to give me but they cannot and would not provide.” Laxmi says, “I know there are people praying for me, ready to encourage me and still supporting me from far far away and I have a God who knows that I am not bad luck.”

Situations like Laxmi’s are why we are committed to propelling justice and building global community to care for and educate children. If you would like to support a girl like Laxmi, visit our child sponsorship page.




Adam Nevins 
From Adam Nevins
Executive Director
ServLife International Inc.


Join Our Mission

ServLife International propels reconciliation and justice by building global community to plant churches, care for children and fight poverty. Compelled by the message, life and love of Jesus Christ, we seek to care for the spiritual, physical, social, and economic areas of life in northern India and Nepal.  Learn more about our latest news, featured stories, and how to get involved at servlife.org

Support a Pastor

Our church planters spread the love of Christ in some of the most difficult
 environments in the world.
Support Them ... 

Sponsor a Child

For only $30 per month you can help give a child food, education, care and, most importantly, hope.
Sponsor Now ... 

Fight Poverty

The HOPE Fund, our micro-finance program, provides start-up funds for a small business, paving a way out of poverty for families in need.
Learn More ...



ServLife International, Inc.
P.O. Box 20596
Indianapolis, IN 46220
USA


In the News ... "Race to benefit Restoration Farm's ministry to single moms"

MRT Photo by James Durbin
By Megan Lea Buck, Reporter
Midland Reporter-Telegram


MIDLAND, TEXAS - Camron Stotts and his wife, Jami, weren’t in the market for a new home when they went along with his brother-in-law’s family to look at a house in Saddle Club Lakes. At the time, the Stottses were living in Green Tree with their four kids.

“We go to look at this house and this house is built by the same guy who built our house in Green Tree,” Camron Stotts said. “The only difference was it was in Saddle Club Lakes, so it’s a little quieter, it’s prettier — even though Green Tree is really pretty — it has water, the view is just perfect.”

The Stottses were considering buying the home when Camron Stotts started thinking about a ranch property on Briarwood Avenue that Mid-Cities Church used for office space. The church had the property up for sale.

“When this other house came up, God just kind of dropped it in my spirit — you know you could buy (the ranch) for the same price. The only difference is you would have a bunch of people around you, it would be a lot of work and it wouldn’t be easy, it wouldn’t be quiet. Or you can go out there — you can isolate yourself and be completely gated off from the rest of the world and it would be really quiet.”

The Stottses purchased the land in 2011 and spent five months renovating it. Their vision was to create a place to provide transitional housing for single moms with young children. They opened Restoration Farm three years ago.

The nonprofit will host its first fundraiser event this weekend. Stotts, who is a runner, organized the Energy City Half Marathon that includes a kid’s 1K, 5K and 10K run Saturday morning at Midland Memorial Stadium ...

CLICK HERE
to read the rest of this MRT report

From @FWMission ... Friday Story: "Family Transformation"

Founded in 2001, Free Wheelchair Mission is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing wheelchairs for the impoverished disabled in developing nations. Headquartered in Irvine, California, FWM works around the world in partnership with a vast network of humanitarian, faith-based and government organizations, sending wheelchairs to hundreds of thousands of disabled people, providing not only the gift of mobility, but of dignity, independence, and hope.


Friday Story: "Family Transformation"

Greetings and happy Friday!

Time and again we receive stories of transformation through the gift of mobility. It not only changes the life of the recipient, but families and caregivers as well. This week’s Friday Story from Mexico is another great one:

Tashami was born with microcephaly and cerebral palsy and has been carried by her mother her entire life. Miriam, Tashami’s mother, explained that due to all of the medical bills for her daughter, the family couldn’t afford the cost of a wheelchair and because she needs to be with Tashami at all times, she has difficulty finding and keeping a job or even getting her daily tasks done ...


read the rest of this story ...



Want to take one of these wheelchairs  for a test drive? During normal business hours, visit the lobby at the Texas Street entrance of First Presbyterian Church-Midland, at the northwest corner of Texas and A streets, on the west side of downtown Midland. You can give the gift of mobility. The cost of $72.00 is a bargain to us ... but it is a life-changing gift to impoverished and disabled recipients ... and there are times when your contribution will be matched, reaching not one - but TWO, and sometimes FOUR recipients. Please note on your check "Wheelchair Gift."

In the News ... "Midlander part of religious freedom summit at Baylor"

Lariat Photo by Hannah Haseloff
• Panel talks religious freedom, persecution

By Shannon Barbour, Staff Writer
The Baylor Lariat

WACO, TEXAS - Panelists discussed religious freedom and how the Waco community can help those affected by religious persecution on Thursday at the Global Religious Freedom Summit in the Kayser Auditorium of the Hankamer School of Business.

President and Chancellor Ken Starr joined the panel and spoke about witnessing religious persecution and how students can get involved.

“International religious freedom is a matter of American national security and global peace,” Starr said.

China Aid File Photo
Bob Fu, pastor and president of China Aid Association, defined freedom of religion as the freedom of religious belief and the ability to practice religious beliefs freely, something he said is not present in China.

The panelists mentioned the Islamic State, certain Middle Eastern countries and North Korea as examples of religious persecution, but they primarily focused on China ...


read the rest of this report

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Day 12"

Presented by Bible Gateway
"Day 12"

"These people without possessions, these strangers, these powerless, these sinners, these followers of Jesus live with him now also in the renunciation of their own dignity, for they are merciful. As if their own need and lack were not enough, they share in other people’s need, debasement, and guilt. They have an irresistible love for the lowly, the sick, for those who are in misery, for those who are demeaned and abased, for those who suffer injustice and are rejected, for everyone in pain and anxiety. They seek out all those who have fallen into sin and guilt. No need is too great, no sin too dreadful for mercy to reach. The merciful give their own honor to those who have fallen into shame and take that shame unto themselves. They may be found in the company of tax collectors and sinners and willingly bear the shame of their fellowship. Disciples give away anyone’s greatest possession, their own dignity and honor, and show mercy. They know only one dignity and honor, the mercy of their Lord, which is their only source of life."

Biblical Wisdom

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” Matthew 5:7

Questions to Ponder

Practically speaking, what does mercy look like? How do merciful people act?
Why is “renunciation of their own dignity” necessary if disciples are to be truly merciful?
How might a church renounce its own dignity in order to be merciful?
How is Jesus our model for renouncing dignity in order to be merciful?
Is there anyone beneath the disciples’ mercy? Why, or why not?


Psalm Fragment

“They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;
they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with those who deal generously and lend,
who conduct their affairs with justice.”
Psalm 112:4-5


Journal Reflections

Write about a time when you extended mercy to someone. How did you feel?
Write about a time when you withheld mercy. How did you feel?
Reflect on the ways in which God is merciful to you.


Intercessions

Think of someone who needs to experience mercy. Pray for them in their need. Ask God what you might do to show them mercy.


Prayer for Today

Lord, may your infinite mercy to me enable me to be truly merciful to all others.


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.


Today in the Mission Yearbook: March 27, 2015

PRESBYTERY OF THE PINES, ARKANSAS AND LOUISIANA - Since 1988, MedCamps of Louisiana has partnered with the Presbytery of the Pines to “improve the health and wellness of people living with chronic illnesses and disabilities through unique recreational and educational camping experiences.” In the beginning, MedCamps provided one week of residential camping for 13 campers with severe asthma and allergies. Since then MedCamps has grown to serve almost 400 campers a year.

Over its history, MedCamps has served over 3,500 children living with various illnesses and disabilities, including sickle-cell anemia, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, orthopedic conditions, Down syndrome, epilepsy, autism, and numerous hearing, speech, and visual impairment ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Far East News: Leper Outreaches

Devestating floods, deadly cyclones and repressive governments notwithstanding, our friends in mission based in southeast Asia continue to spread the love of Jesus Christ, not only through their actions, but through the written Word of God. Following is an update we received from Mark and Astrid of the Christian Far East Ministry. We met with them both, learned from them and contributed to their efforts during our Thailand Mission, in 2008. Their work extends beyond the borders of Thailand into other southeast Asian countries, as well.

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"Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith ...”   James 2:5 (TLV)

Leper Outreaches ...
Thank God for our CFE sponsors who have been continuing to support the leper church in Myanmar. We haven’t reported on them in a while, but a lot has been done. Please go to our Facebook page (christian.fareast) from February 11 to see many pictures of the blessings given to the lepers.

One project was putting cement around the church, and tiles on the floor of the church. This was done, because in rainy season the surrounding village is full of mud, and the people were bringing mud into the church which was hard to clean. So cement was put all around the church and a patio was made at one end of the church. Pastor Myo Gyee is pictured below at that end of the church. And even a sidewalk was put through a muddy part of the village, so people can now walk to church without getting into the mud.

A second project was supporting Christmas outreaches in and around the leper village. Everyone received a meal, a Christmas T-shirt, love, and the message of Jesus Christ. The lepers need new T-shirts since their fingers have worn away and they cannot button buttons. Many seeds of faith were sown, and four people accepted Christ.


Even the old lepers helped to pour the cement around the church. And the children enjoyed their Christmas meal.

Another project has supported more food for the older lepers for six months.

Another project is paying to support 72 of the children of the lepers so they can go to school. In Myanmar the families must pay for their education, and the lepers are too poor to pay for their children’s school fees. This is giving 72 children a hope for their futures.


Thank you for your continued support so God’s love and truth can continue to go forth where it is most needed. God bless you!

Mark and Astrid



NEW INCORPORATION - Christian Far East Ministry has now been incorporated in America. All gifts may now be given directly to Christian Far East Ministry, PO Box 1411, Glendora, CA 91740. "If it is easier for you to continue to give through Faith Community Church or His Servants Ministry, you can as our relationship with these ministries has not changed. But if you are mailing checks to the Glendora address, you may now make all gifts payable to Christian Far East Ministry. We’d like to thank Faith Community Church and His Servants Ministry for their assistance and support throughout the years and their continued assistance. We’d also like to thank all of you who support us and pray for us as we could not do this ministry without your partnership."

In the News ... "Catholic high school could open in fall 2018"

MRT Photo by Tim Fischer
• Board seeks nonprofit status for Permian Basin facility

By Steve Kuhlman, Reporter
Midland Reporter-Telegram

MIDLAND, TEXAS - While the recently announced Permian Basin Catholic high school has received official approval from San Angelo Bishop Michael Sis, parents will have to wait a few more years before they can send their teens to the yet-to-be named school.

Organizers hope to open the school’s doors in the fall of 2018, according to a press release sent out by the Diocese of San Angelo on Monday. Still in the early stages of the process, one of the first steps will be for the school's board — which will include Sis — to apply for nonprofit status with the state.

“A Catholic high school in the Permian Basin has the potential of forming committed Catholic leaders for the future of our society and our church,” Sis said Monday in a phone interview. “It will require much dedication and cooperation among the Catholics in the area to start and operate this school, but I believe we can do it with God's help" ...


read the rest of this MRT report

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Day 11"

Presented by Bible Gateway

"Day 11"

Disciples live with not only renouncing their own rights, but even renouncing their own righteousness. They get no credit themselves for what they do and sacrifice.

The only righteousness they can have is in hungering and thirsting for it. They will have neither their own righteousness nor God’s righteousness on earth. At all times they look forward to God’s future righteousness, but they cannot bring it about by themselves. Those who follow Jesus will be hungry and thirsty along the way. They are filled with longing for forgiveness of all sins and for complete renewal; they long for the renewal of the earth and for God’s perfect justice.

Biblical Wisdom

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

Questions to Ponder

What could it mean to renounce your own righteousness?
Why do disciples “have neither their own righteousness nor God’s righteousness on earth”? Is that a reason for pessimism or cynicism?
If a church renounced its own righteousness, what changes might take place in the way that church relates to other churches, the secular world, and other religions?
Would being always hungry and thirsty for righteousness lead to action or inaction? Why?


Psalm Fragment

“For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.” Psalm 33:4-5

Journal Reflections

In what ways do you experience hungering and thirsting for righteousness in your own life? What could you do to alleviate that hunger and thirst?
In what ways do you see our world hungering and thirsting for righteousness? What could your community of faith do to alleviate that hunger and thirst?


Intercessions

Think of those places and situations in our world where people suffer from unrighteousness. Pray that people of faith would say no to the suffering, no to the injustice, and then stand and work in solidarity with those who suffer “for righteousness.”


Prayer for Today

Lord, may your righteous kingdom come in my life and in the world.


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.


Today in the Mission Yearbook: March 26, 2015

PALO DURO PRESBYTERY, TEXAS - “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

Losing something precious is always difficult. But this passage from John’s Gospel reminds us that something glorious can come from painful loss. For Palo Duro Presbytery, the dissolution of some churches and the dismissal of others has led to new life, as promising new ministries have emerged through a presbytery program called This Little Light of Mine. Congregations applied for grants made possible by the sale of property and monetary gifts from departing churches. The new programs are bearing fruit across Palo Duro’s 50 congregations, helping the presbytery to fulfill its goal “to strengthen congregations for the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ” ...

CLICK HERE to read more.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Partners Blog: "You see the future here"

Steve and Oddny Gumaer started Partners Relief and Development in response to the needs of refugees and displaced people from Burma. Their mission is to demonstrate, through holistic action, God’s love to children and communities made vulnerable by war in Burma.

You see the future here

It is because of our faithful supporters that students like Naw K’Moo have access to education and have the opportunity to become teachers.

Living in a small village in war-torn Myanmar (Burma), her parents both passed away when she was young, leaving her and 6 siblings to fend for themselves as orphans. She continued to diligently pursue her education, despite the hard work of maintaining a home for her younger brothers and sisters ...

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Partners Relief and Development is a registered charity in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, working with communities impacted by war in Burma. For more information aboput Partners, visit their website at partnersworld.org/

In the News ... "Wounded Pastor to Attacker: 'You Apologized, You're Forgiven'"

KWES Photo
• Wants the community to know that his facility is still a safe place to be

Alicia Neaves, Reporter

KWES-TV

ODESSA, TEXAS - Back in February, Pastor Donny Kyker of Jesus House of Odessa was attacked. A man staying in their transitional home stabbed him.

Kyker is now back and serving his community. He's now speaking out to NewsWest 9 for the first time since the attack ...

 • read/watch the rest of this KWES report ...

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Day 10"

Presented by Bible Gateway

"Day 10"

No rights they might claim protect this community of strangers in the world. Nor do they claim any such rights, for they are the meek, who renounce all rights of their own for the sake of Jesus Christ. When they are berated, they are quiet. When violence is done to them, they endure it. When they are cast out, they yield. They do not sue for their rights; they do not make a scene when injustice is done to them. They do not want rights of their own.… But Jesus says, they will inherit the earth. The earth belongs to those who are without rights and power. Those who now possess the earth with violence and injustice will lose it, and those who renounce it here, who were meek unto the cross, will rule over the new earth.

Biblical Wisdom

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

Questions to Ponder

What does it mean to say that disciples “renounce all rights of their own for the sake of Jesus Christ”?
Why would disciples “not want rights of their own”?
Should followers of Jesus be non-violent in their response to evil?
In what sense can it be said that: “The earth belongs to those who are without rights and power”?


Psalm Fragment

“O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek;
you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed,
so that those from earth may strike terror no more.”
Psalm 145:18


Journal Reflections

Are there any rights that you would rather defend than “renounce…for the sake of Jesus Christ”? Explain.
Think of the way you do life and live in relationships. Would you call yourself meek? Why, or why not?
Is there a situation in your life now where you need the gift of meekness? If so, write about it. What might be different in that situation if you were truly meek? What do you need to do?


Intercessions

Pray for the powerful, the arrogant, those who clamor most for their own rights, that they might become truly meek and seek the good of others rather than their own good.


Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, help me to renounce my own rights for your sake. Give me the gift of meekness and make me an “instrument of your peace.”