Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Reflections: November 30

Isaiah 64: 1-9 BibleGateway.com

Just past the corner of 50th Street and 5th Avenue, a few blocks from the brightly lit Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center in New York City stands, is the same street vendor selling those unforgettable chestnuts roasted-on-an-open-fire. He arrives in early December. I greet him by saying, "It's been a year, my friend!" and he says, ""Happy Holidays to you, my friend! The best chestnuts in the world for you! Hpw many bags you want?" I always buy two bags of those unforgettable , wonderfully delightful, half-opened, slightly-browned, crackling hot chestnuts that dance from one hand to the other.

The sound of Advent is bustling peoples from all over, gathering and speaking - like the sound of heaven rending (v. 1). It's being reminded that "we are all God's people" (v. 9).

The sight of Advent is people of all ages, smiling and laughing, holding shint, leather-gloved hands over their fire-hot crackling treasure (v. 2), like the clasped hands of the potter (v. 8). But at the center of it all is a name, a friend, our God who (vs. 3-4, 7) joyfully greets us.

Gracious God, as this advent begins, may I be reminded that we are all your people. I eagerly await the glow in in my life, as I prepare for the giving of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Amen


John Ahn, Assistant Professor of Old Testament
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

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.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Actual Incident's Virtual Effect .....

UPDATE: Weather Underground once again has updated content from Thailand, with reports now coming from Hua Hin Airport.

There are storm clouds over Thailand today, tossing the political and social seas to the extent that small ripples reach a weblog here, on the far side of the world.

According to
this report from the Associated Press, "protesters occupying Bangkok's two airports braced for a raid after Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat declared a limited state of emergency authorizing police to take back the terminals. Meanwhile, rumors swept the city that the military would instead stage a coup to end the months-long standoff between the People's Alliance for Democracy and the elected government, which the alliance has vowed to topple."

You are reminded of the ongoing troubles there each time you visit West Texas Missioner, down the left-hand column, where one of the Weather Underground gadgets (set for Bangkok, Thailand) remains in gray-scale mode, and tells me "DATA UNAVAILABLE" ... the reporting center for that city, is the airport.

Members of the 2008 Thailand Mission Team passed through that airport on our way into and out of Thailand, earlier this year ... and we met a lot of good people - both native Thais and foreign nationals - in the days between our arrival and our departure. We think of them a lot these days, and we pray for their safekeeping through these troubled and uncertain times ... we hope you will, too.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Midland Group Offers "Prayer Band That Started a Revolution"

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.

Issued by ChinaAid, November, 2008 ...

This prayer band has been declared illegal in China.

Chinese police have stopped people on the streets and taken the bands off their wrists. Some have been interrogated and arrested; at least three families were evicted from their homes—for the government, the prayer band is a symbol of revolution.

We thank everyone across the U.S. and around the world who answered the call to wear a "Pray for China" prayer band and pray during the Olympics. Your willingness to stand with Chinese house church Christians encouraged them as they also wore prayer bands and prayed for their country. Their commitment came with a cost. Read more.

Yet, house church Christians refuse to be intimidated. They say that prayer for China is even more critical now that the world is no longer watching. Persecution has increased. Will you join in this revolution of prayer for China?

"They can arrest me or put me in prison, but I'm not going to stop praying for China. Although the prayer band is banned in China, prayer can never be banned. I am asking every Christian to support believers in China by wearing a prayer band." - a prominent house church leader

At this crucial time, will you partner in prayer? And, will you please forward this information to others who will want to pray for the persecuted in China.

» Click here to order a China Prayer Band

God Issues Today: "Turkey Bones and Gratitude"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"Thanksgiving is essential for our souls, especially when times are hard," Dr. Denison writes in today's post at God Issues.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

MAAS World AIDS Day Worship in Midland

MAAS World AIDS Day worship will be held on Monday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church of Midland. Please plan to come join us, support the people who have lost a loved one because of AIDS, hear the beautiful music and light a candle for people whose lives have been affected by AIDS, and also for a loved one of your own. Hope to see you there!

Graphic by worldaidscampaign.org

MAAS (Midland Area AIDS Support) is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization funded by donations from concerned individuals and foundations. Services are confidential and free of charge. Contributions are tax deductible.

MAAS is an organization set up for support and education. It is their mission to provide compassionate care and support of all kinds of people with AIDS, people who are HIV positive, and to the families and friends of people affected by this disease.

It is also their mission to provide all people with education, as well as accurate and timely information regarding AIDS. AIDS pertains to all of us. Proper knowledge of AIDS prevention is vitally important for everyone to know. MAAS provides a weekly support group for people with AIDS, People who are HIV positive and for their families and friends. MAAS trains and equips volunteers to serve on care teams. Approximately 5 to 7 people are on a care team. Each care team is assigned to care for one person living with AIDS and their family members. This groups offers on going instruction in grief recovery as well as warm, compassionate love and support.

MAAS was started in June of 1991 and is facilitated by an AIDS family member who is also a Stephen Minister at First Presbyterian Church of Midland. Private counseling is made available to individuals, families, and friends affected by this disease, as well as spiritual guidance.

Contact Information

Midland/Odessa Area AIDS Support,Inc. (MAAS)
800 W. Texas Street, Midland, Texas 79701
(432) 520-3055 or 684-7821
Judy Warren - Executive Director
judyw@basinlink.com

Simple Gifts at First Prez

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,

'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.

When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

(1st verse and refrain from the original by Elder Joseph Brackett; 2nd and 3rd verses added later)

First Presbyterian Church of Midland hosted its very first Neighborhood Thanksgiving Party, Tuesday night, where friends and family were joined by guests from Breaking Bread Soup Kitchen, and others who do not have a home or a place to enjoy a shared meal for Thanksgiving. In addition to a traditional holiday meal with all the trimmings, there was plenty of fellowsip, children's activities, and live music from Jody Nix and his band. Also, a large number of meals were packed "to go" for delivery to the home-bound.

Organizers were pleased with this innaugural event, and are already talking about getting together once again, same time next year. For more information about Breaking Bread Soup Kitchen, call First Presbyterian at 684-7821.




God Issues Today: "Canceling Superman"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"But God does care that we demonstrate an attitude of gratitude. Thanksgiving positions us to receive all that our Father intends to give," Dr. Denison writes in today's post at God Issues.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Faces of Children: Prayer Requests

Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Our mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, we seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).

Prayer Concerns for the week of 11/24/08

Haiti

• Please pray for the approximately 500 children and teenagers and their teachers who were at College La Promesse in suburban Port-au-Prince when the school suddenly collapsed. More than 150 were injured and 87 killed when the three-story school collapsed. Pray for the families who lost loved ones.
• Pray for justice for the children and families affected by this senseless accident. The school was poorly constructed and had been built without much steel reinforcement.
A report from alertnet.org

Honduras

• Pray for the estimated 320,000 Honduran children and people who have been affected by the severe flooding and landslides caused by weeks of sustained rain from a tropical depression.
• Please pray for the wellbeing of Honduras’ children as the country may face serious food shortages. Almost half of this year’s crops have been destroyed.
A report from alertnet.org

Kenya
(CURE International – www.helpcurenow.org)

• Please keep the disabled children and youth receiving treatment at the CURE International Hospital in Kenya held close in prayer.
• Pray also for the medical personnel, staff and volunteers at this hospital as they care for these young ones.
• And pray especially for two girls, 8-year-old Minoo, 11-year-old Mercy; and for four boys, 6-year-old Ndolo, 11-year-old Wambua, 11-year-old Kivinda and 14-year-old Muithya.

Sudan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo

• Pray the for children and people of Dungu, 400 miles north of Goma near the border of Sudan, who were recently attacked by members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), formerly from Northern Uganda and now based in remote Congolese jungle hideouts.
• Pray for those who lost everything when rebels burned all of the homes in the village. Pray for all of the children in this village who were forcefully kidnapped by the LRA. Pray for their safety and freedom.
• Please pray for children and families in Sudan and the Central African Republic who have also been affected by LRA raids on their villages.
A report from alertnet.org

Uganda
(Watoto Child Care Ministries – www.watoto.com)

• Please keep the 100 babies at the Watoto Baby Home in Uganda in prayer as well as their caregivers.
○ Pray that 3-month-old Makeda, who was found abandoned in the community, recovers from meningitis and hydrocephalus.
○ Give God thanks that 3-month-old Lily, whose mother died after she was born, is growing stronger and fatter over the past few months and is starting to smile.
○ Pray that 8-month-old Zeke, a premature baby whose mother died giving birth to him, will continue to grow strong.
• Give thanks to God for the opening of the first Watoto Children’s Village in Northern Uganda and for the opportunity for children affected by the 20 year-plus war in this area to receive quality education, marketable vocational skills, trauma rehabilitation, life skills training and discipleship.
○ Pray for the 56 children living in the 9 completed homes in this village.
○ Pray for the caregivers and staff of the Watoto Children’s Village as they help with the rehabilitation of war-affected children and provide a safe and loving environment for orphans and vulnerable children.
○ Pray for the vulnerable widows, single mothers and their children who receive counseling and life skills training in the Watoto Children’s Village.
A report from watoto.com

Faces of Children

• Please continue to pray that more churches and individuals will join with the ministry of Faces of Children in spreading awareness about children in crisis and inviting more people to pray for children at risk.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

MAAS World AIDS Day Worship in Midland

MAAS World AIDS Day worship will be held on Monday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church of Midland. Please plan to come join us, support the people who have lost a loved one because of AIDS, hear the beautiful music and light a candle for people whose lives have been affected by AIDS, and also for a loved one of your own. Hope to see you there!

Graphic by worldaidscampaign.org

MAAS (Midland Area AIDS Support) is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization funded by donations from concerned individuals and foundations. Services are confidential and free of charge. Contributions are tax deductible.

MAAS is an organization set up for support and education. It is their mission to provide compassionate care and support of all kinds of people with AIDS, people who are HIV positive, and to the families and friends of people affected by this disease.

It is also their mission to provide all people with education, as well as accurate and timely information regarding AIDS. AIDS pertains to all of us. Proper knowledge of AIDS prevention is vitally important for everyone to know. MAAS provides a weekly support group for people with AIDS, People who are HIV positive and for their families and friends. MAAS trains and equips volunteers to serve on care teams. Approximately 5 to 7 people are on a care team. Each care team is assigned to care for one person living with AIDS and their family members. This groups offers on going instruction in grief recovery as well as warm, compassionate love and support.

MAAS was started in June of 1991 and is facilitated by an AIDS family member who is also a Stephen Minister at First Presbyterian Church of Midland. Private counseling is made available to individuals, families, and friends affected by this disease, as well as spiritual guidance.

Contact Information

Midland/Odessa Area AIDS Support,Inc. (MAAS)
800 W. Texas Street, Midland, Texas 79701
(432) 520-3055 or 684-7821
Judy Warren - Executive Director
judyw@basinlink.com

West Texas Mission Opportunities:
Upward Basketball Needs Coaches

There are some for whom the word "mission" conjures up images of travels to the far side of the world for extended periods of time ... but that is NOT always the case. There are opportunities going on in your community - right here, right now - that have a genuine need for someone with exactly your skills, and exactly your schedule.

One is Upward Basketball & Cheerleading, which is preparing right now for its 2009 season in West Texas. At this time, Upward Basketball is needing coaches for the following: 5th and 6th grade girls and boys; 3rd and 4th grade boys. The rosters are ready for those teams, but they need coaches. Practices start next Monday, December 1st, if there are coaches. If you can volunteer to be a coach please contact Melinda or Scott at 684-8440 or 684-7821.

Upward introduces children to Jesus Christ by creating opportunities to serve through sports. Upward is a fun, reliable, passionate and encouraging sports experience for boys and girls, in K5 through sixth grade. Upward provides first class, organized and detailed sports programming. Unique aspects of Upward include an evaluation system (going on now in West Texas!) that promotes equal and competitive teams as well as a substitution system which allows for equal playing time for all participants.Through Upward, children are exposed to quality coaching and sport development. Upward emphasizes character and integrity instead of a “win at all costs” mentality associated with today’s sports world.

And, No, you don't have to be a member of a church in order to participate!

There are all kinds of ways you can help the Upward program in your community ... all kinds of ways you can become a West Texas Missioner. You can be a coach, or an assistant, a referee or a timekeeper. You may also choose to present a brief devotional to the audience during the halftimes, while the teams are resting and getting ready for the next round of play. Your focus can be current events, a piece of Scripture from the Bible, or sports. You can compose your own, or work from guidelines that participating churches will provide you.

You can also help by signing-up your child, then heading to the game and cheering for everyone on the floor!

In Midland, there are programs at
First Baptist Church and First Presbyterian Church.

In Odessa, there are programs at
Sherwood Baptist Church, First Baptist Church, Second Baptist Church and Faith Church of the Nazarene.

And in Lamesa, there is a program at
First Baptist Church.

In the weeks ahead, we will present more "West Texas Mission Opportunities" on this site.

God Issues Today: "The Battle of the Birds"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"As a Christian, it's easy for me to think that I deserve my Father's blessings, that when he answers my prayers he is simply fulfilling his responsibilities. But it's not true," Dr. Denison writes in today's post at God Issues
.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Utterli Musical II

More music from worship service for Midland Chin Christian Fellowship ...

God Issues Today: "Is God an Egotist?"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"There are three reasons why thanksgiving makes us whole, even in hard times," Dr. Denison writes in today's post at God Issues
.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Utterli Musical

Music from worship service for Midland Chin Christian Fellowship ...

MAAS World AIDS Day Worship in Midland

MAAS World AIDS Day worship will be held on Monday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church of Midland. Please plan to come join us, support the people who have lost a loved one because of AIDS, hear the beautiful music and light a candle for people whose lives have been affected by AIDS, and also for a loved one of your own. Hope to see you there!

Graphic by worldaidscampaign.org

MAAS (Midland Area AIDS Support) is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization funded by donations from concerned individuals and foundations. Services are confidential and free of charge. Contributions are tax deductible.

MAAS is an organization set up for support and education. It is their mission to provide compassionate care and support of all kinds of people with AIDS, people who are HIV positive, and to the families and friends of people affected by this disease.

It is also their mission to provide all people with education, as well as accurate and timely information regarding AIDS. AIDS pertains to all of us. Proper knowledge of AIDS prevention is vitally important for everyone to know. MAAS provides a weekly support group for people with AIDS, People who are HIV positive and for their families and friends. MAAS trains and equips volunteers to serve on care teams. Approximately 5 to 7 people are on a care team. Each care team is assigned to care for one person living with AIDS and their family members. This groups offers on going instruction in grief recovery as well as warm, compassionate love and support.

MAAS was started in June of 1991 and is facilitated by an AIDS family member who is also a Stephen Minister at First Presbyterian Church of Midland. Private counseling is made available to individuals, families, and friends affected by this disease, as well as spiritual guidance.

Contact Information

Midland/Odessa Area AIDS Support,Inc. (MAAS)
800 W. Texas Street, Midland, Texas 79701
(432) 520-3055 or 684-7821
Judy Warren - Executive Director
judyw@basinlink.com

Friday, November 21, 2008

Partners Blogcast: "Their Children Are Starving"

Steve and Oddny Gumaer started Partners Relief & Development in response to the needs of refugees and displaced people from Burma. This blog is meant to be a more personal stream of conversation than newsletters allow for. The opinions expressed here may not be those of Partners Relief & Development.

Cold Season Military Offensives Have Started In Burma

By Steve Gumaer - Last week my wife, three daughters and I went to visit 15 new families who have recently arrived in a temporary camp along the Thai Burma border. One mother told us how their homes, schools, churches, and farms have been destroyed or burned down and how the Burma Army is abusing those villagers they catch, using them as human mine sweepers and forced laborers.

As they recounted their stories to us, I thought to myself, "These stories aren't that bad. No rapes or people being burned alive, no horrible torture stories or mass displacement. I have heard much worse than this." The moment I had this thought I realized how jaded my heart was in response to the nightmare these people and their children were experiencing.

They can't go home. Ever. Their ancestral villages and rice fields are landmined and occupied by the incomprehensible and brutal force of their own countrymen. Their kids are starving, fighting the cold season temperatures, and moving through the jungle in small groups as they seek to avoid the soldiers that seek to harm them. As of today, it is reported that 330 newly displaced people are fleeing such attacks.

Many of them, like the 15 families we were visiting, end up in camps along the Moi river. The boy in the picture at right is one of the latest arrivals. My daughters and I walked past him on our way out of the camp as he sat sifting dirt from small rice grains in order to have something to eat for dinner. Can you imagine how it would feel to be the father of this boy as he spirals into sickness and malnourishment? Can you imagine the pain of being forced to give up any hope of returning to your home, your place of birth, and the farms your great grandfather planted with his own hands?

God, I beg you to help these people.

I also appeal again to you who get this message. Keep praying that God would bring an end to the ongoing violence against innocent people in Burma. Pray for the relief teams who deliberately hike into conflict areas to minister to these people and help them.

It costs so little money to provide basic survival needs for them. Please look at our 5 alive web site page for details. The bottom line is that it costs us only $50 to give a family 5 everything they need to survive for a month. If you are able to join the effort, click here now to make a secure online donation.

Because of your generosity, Partners and the Free Burma Rangers have been able to supply rice, medicine, knives, cooking pots, mats, blankets, mosquito nets and stoves to those who are in desperate need of help. But our provisions are not nearly enough to satisfy the needs of these swelling numbers of displaced people.

Their misery has touched me. I feel challenged to care more, give more, and press on to demonstrate to them the compassion I have found in God. Join me in this revolution of love today!

Your Brother,
Steve Gumaer
CEO, Partners Relief & Development

West Texas Mission Opportunities:
Meals On Wheels

There are some for whom the word "mission" conjures up images of travels to the far side of the world for extended periods of time ... but that is NOT always the case. There are opportunities going on in your community - right here, right now - that have a genuine need for someone with exactly your skills, and exactly your schedule.

One of those is Meals-on-Wheels of Midland, a program that delivers hot, nutritious meals Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to elderly, disabled, and homebound persons who qualify for the service. They also have a weekend program called Share-a-Meal that delivers a lunch on Saturday to those who meet the requirements.

In the Tall City, the program is a part of Community & Senior Services of Midland. Volunteers will be in contact with elderly and disabled individuals. A specific route will be assigned where there is an opening for a driver and when the volunteer is available. A map of the delivery area will be given to the Driver when meals are picked up. Volunteers will be picking up and loading their vehicles with insulated coolers containing the meals. An average route has approximately 15 homes.

By the way, Meals on Wheels is just one of the ways you can volunteer with CSS. Community & Senior Services' volunteers come from all walks of life. They vary in age from children to senior citizens. They come from diverse backgrounds. Many are working men and women. They give their time and talents in different ways, to a wide variety of programs and projects.CLICK HERE for more information.

If you want to volunteer and/or have any questions, please contact Margie Zaptka at Community and Senior Services at 432/689-6693 or email her at mowvol@cssmidland.org

God Issues Today: "Thanking Santa"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"Why be thankful in hard times? Because thanksgiving makes us whole," Dr. Denison writes in today's post at God Issues
.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Midland Group Offers "Prayer Band That Started a Revolution"

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.

Issued by ChinaAid, December, 2008 ...

This prayer band has been declared illegal in China.

Chinese police have stopped people on the streets and taken the bands off their wrists. Some have been interrogated and arrested; at least three families were evicted from their homes—for the government, the prayer band is a symbol of revolution.

We thank everyone across the U.S. and around the world who answered the call to wear a "Pray for China" prayer band and pray during the Olympics. Your willingness to stand with Chinese house church Christians encouraged them as they also wore prayer bands and prayed for their country. Their commitment came with a cost. Read more.

Yet, house church Christians refuse to be intimidated. They say that prayer for China is even more critical now that the world is no longer watching. Persecution has increased. Will you join in this revolution of prayer for China?

"They can arrest me or put me in prison, but I'm not going to stop praying for China. Although the prayer band is banned in China, prayer can never be banned. I am asking every Christian to support believers in China by wearing a prayer band." - a prominent house church leader

At this crucial time, will you partner in prayer? And, will you please forward this information to others who will want to pray for the persecuted in China.

» Click here to order a China Prayer Band

God Issues Today: "Running Out of Prisons"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"As we enter the season of Thanksgiving, we're exploring reasons for giving thanks in hard times," Dr. Denison writes in today's post at God Issues
.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Faces of Children: Prayer Requests

Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Our mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, we seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).

Prayer Concerns for the week of 11/17/08

Democratic Republic of Congo

• Pray for relief and aid workers as well as medical personnel assisting the children and people of the Democratic Republic of Congo during this season of violence.
• Please pray for the safety of the Samaritan’s Purse relief team working in the North Kivu province city of Goma this week.
A report from samaritanspurse.org
• Pray for the local church community as they struggle to help with very limited resources.
• Please be in prayer for those who are without shelter, blankets, clean water, food or medical care. Pray for children who are desperately ill. Seventy cases of cholera have been reported in the Goma area.
• Pray that relief supplies will reach those most in need of aid and for wisdom, coordination and cooperation in distributing the relief aid through the structures already in place.
• Please pray for the children and people affected by the fighting and instability of this region. More than 250,000 people have fled their homes or camps because of recent violence. An estimated 1 million people are internally displaced in the DR Congo.
A report from alertnet.org
• Pray for children who are abducted and forced to become soldiers. Pray for those who have managed to escape and are now in rehabilitation facilities, struggling to heal from the trauma of abuse.
A report from alertnet.org
• Please pray for peace for this war-torn land. Pray that a lasting diplomatic agreement will bring an end to the conflict.
A report from alertnet.org

North Korea

• Please be in prayer for the children and people of North Korea experiencing tremendous food shortages and literally dying of hunger. Several years of flooding and failed crops, coupled with reduced food and fertilizer aid from other countries and organizations because of the North Korean government’s failure to comply with a nuclear disarmament agreement, have brought this country to the brink of famine.
A report from alertnet.org
• Pray for the estimated 37 percent of children under the age of 6 who are chronically malnourished. (DPRK/UNICEF/WFP, 2004)
A report from alertnet.org
• Pray for a change of heart for the leaders of this reclusive country where public executions are used as a tool of intimidation. Dissenters are often arrested, held in political prisoners’ camps and tortured. Their family members are also at risk of being arrested and jailed.
A report from alertnet.org

Somalia

• Please be in prayer for the children and people of Somalia who must live in a country where violence and poverty is the norm. One quarter of Somali children die before they are 5 years old. Nearly every public institution has collapsed.
• Pray for the family of a 13-year-old girl who reported being raped by three men and was consequently stoned to death for adultery. Please pray for the girl children and women of Somalia who face tremendous discrimination.

A report from the Washington Post
• Pray for the safety of relief workers and missionaries who are frequently threatened with kidnapping or worse. Pray for the children of missionaries living in this lawless and violent land.
A report from alertnet.org
Another report from alertnet.org
• Please be in prayer for Somali immigrants and their children as they seek a better life in other countries, but run the risk of being exploited or killed by traffickers.
A report from signonsandiego.com

Faces of Children

• Please continue to pray that more churches and individuals will join with the ministry of Faces of Children in spreading awareness about children in crisis and inviting more people to pray for children at risk.

God Issues Today: "Bailing Out GM"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"Why be grateful in painful times? As we learned yesterday, God's word clearly calls us to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18), but why," Dr. Denison asks in today's post at God Issues
.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

MAAS World AIDS Day Worship in Midland

MAAS World AIDS Day worship will be held on Monday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church of Midland. Please plan to come join us, support the people who have lost a loved one because of AIDS, hear the beautiful music and light a candle for people whose lives have been affected by AIDS, and also for a loved one of your own. Hope to see you there!

Graphic by worldaidscampaign.org

MAAS (Midland Area AIDS Support) is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization funded by donations from concerned individuals and foundations. Services are confidential and free of charge. Contributions are tax deductible.

MAAS is an organization set up for support and education. It is their mission to provide compassionate care and support of all kinds of people with AIDS, people who are HIV positive, and to the families and friends of people affected by this disease.

It is also their mission to provide all people with education, as well as accurate and timely information regarding AIDS. AIDS pertains to all of us. Proper knowledge of AIDS prevention is vitally important for everyone to know. MAAS provides a weekly support group for people with AIDS, People who are HIV positive and for their families and friends. MAAS trains and equips volunteers to serve on care teams. Approximately 5 to 7 people are on a care team. Each care team is assigned to care for one person living with AIDS and their family members. This groups offers on going instruction in grief recovery as well as warm, compassionate love and support.

MAAS was started in June of 1991 and is facilitated by an AIDS family member who is also a Stephen Minister at First Presbyterian Church of Midland. Private counseling is made available to individuals, families, and friends affected by this disease, as well as spiritual guidance.

Contact Information

Midland/Odessa Area AIDS Support,Inc. (MAAS)
800 W. Texas Street, Midland, Texas 79701
(432) 520-3055 or 684-7821
Judy Warren - Executive Director
judyw@basinlink.com

God Issues Today: "Hope in Hard Places"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"We are entering the Thanksgiving season, but you'd be hard pressed to prove it from the daily news. Has there been a time in recent memory when our nation was less disposed to be thankful," Dr. Denison asks in today's post at God Issues
.

Monday, November 17, 2008

AMOS Needs Help to Reach Matching-Grant Goal

Area Missions Outreach Services works to continue meeting community need

By
Kathleen Thurber
Midland Reporter-Telegram

MIDLAND, TEXAS (MRT) - With the noise of volunteers building food boxes to distribute in the next room and the cut of brisk wind on the windows behind them, a line of women waited patiently in the entryway of Area Mission Outreach Services, chatting and clutching their purses full of diabetes medications, waiting to see the doctor.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the story

The organization has recently been offered a $7,000 grant from a local foundation, but will only receive it if it can match the funds with gifts from new donors. To contribute to AMOS ministry's matching grant, or to volunteer, call 687-2667 or visit 908 South Loraine

Midland Group: Church Leader Sentenced to "Re-education Through Labor"

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.

Issued by ChinaAid, December, 2008 ...
HENAN, CHINA - ChinaAid learned a house church leader in Henan province, Pastor Zhu Baoguo, was sentenced to one year of “re-education through labor,” accused of being an “evil cult” leader.
On October 12, 2008 five church leaders were detained during a church gathering of about 20 people at Dushu village, Yuguang town, Neixiang county, Nanyang city, Henan province. Pastor Zhu received 15 days of administrative detention, while the other four leaders were sentenced to five days. However, on October 30, two days after Pastor Zhu was released from his 15-day administrative detention at the Detention Center of Neixiang County, Pastor Zhu was sentenced to one year of re-education through labor. He was charged with being a member of “an evil cult.” He was immediately sent to a labor camp. His family and church members have not been able to determine where he is being held. According to his family members, Pastor Zhu suffers from heart disease.

“To arbitrarily detain and sentence an innocent house church pastor is a direct violation of the Chinese Constitution and related international human rights covenants guaranteeing Chinese citizens’ religious freedom. It also contradicts the Chinese government’s repeated claim for protecting religious freedom in the spirit of rule of law,” said Bob Fu, President of ChinaAid. “We call upon the Chinese government to release Pastor Zhu immediately.”

Please Take Note

Here is a wonderful way to spread the news ... AND spread the WORD. Notecards bearing images created by orphans of the Lulwanda Children's Home of Uganada, are now on sale at First Presbyterian Church of Midland. A packet of eight 51/2" x 3" cards, printed on heavy card stock, with envelopes, costs $10 and all of the proceeds from the sale goes to Lulwanda Children's Home.
All of the images that appear on the cards were created by the children this summer, when they were visited by FPC's 2008 Uganada Mission Team. You can choose from full-color landscapes, black-and white barnyard animals, or variable-color native plants from this region of Uganda. First Presbyterian Church is located on the northwest corner of Texas and A streets, on the west edge of downtown Midland, please use the Texas Street entrance near the intersection. The church office is open Monday through Friday, from eight o'clock in the morning until five o'clock in the afternoon. For more information, please call First Prez-Midland at (432) 684-7821.

Lulwanda Children’s Home opened its doors on December 1, 2004, the first children’s home established by the Grace International Children’s Foundation (GICF). Lulwanda now houses and cares for 90 orphaned or abandoned children between the ages of 3 and 12.

Before coming to Lulwanda Children’s Home, many of these children had no one to care for them, while others were living in desperate conditions with aging and overburdened grandparents. Now the children are thriving in a healthy, nurturing environment. The children not only live at Lulwanda, they also attend primary school on site, learning basic life skills, English, math, and a variety of other subjects. Pre-school, kindergarten, and first through fifth grades are held simultaneously for five hours daily, five days per week. The children receive regular medical care, nutritious meals, and lots of outdoor play time – all in a warm family environment that promotes bonding between the children, their house mothers, and the rest of the staff members

Facilities at the Lulwanda Children’s Home include boys’ and girls’ dormitories and bathhouses, living / dining areas, 6 classrooms, a large playground, a kitchen, laundry room, and a garden which provides some of the food for the Home. A 10 acre farm was recently acquired and food crops are being grown and harvested. The Home Administrator lives on site, as do the four housemothers.

CLICK HERE to view or download a 2 page color tri-fold brochure about Lulwanda, in PDF format.

God Issues Today: "Barbers and Barricades"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"The fewer chances we take, the fewer failures we chance. And the less joy we know," Dr. Denison writes in today's post at God Issues
.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jubilee Campaign: Prayer Requests


Jubilee Campaign is a nonprofit organization seeking to help the persecuted church and children at risk around the world. We advocate for the release of prisoners of conscience and endeavor to change laws wherever necessary.
CLICK HERE for more information

Please pray for ...
• North Koreans who live in squalor and whose lives are threatened by mere attempts to provide for their families
• The NKRs who have escaped to use their voices as a way to change the hearts and minds of others-God to send in the force necessary to rescue these people from harm
• The regime of Kim Jong-Il to fall
• The NKRs who face discrimination in South Korea as they have little means to support themselves
• The post-Kim Jong-Il era to bring stability to Korea, not economic downturn-The ability to care for those impoverished-Protection for Christian aid workers in China as well as for the Gospel message to transform hearts and give peace to North Koreans

The following was prepared by Jubilee Campaign ...

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is the most secretive regime in the world. Few penetrate its borders and fewer personally encounter the horrible poverty plaguing this country and hundreds of thousands of its citizens. Jubilee Campaign partners with the North Korea Freedom Coalition to provide a voice for North Korean refugees (NKRs), and to spread awareness of the gross injustices against them. NKRs are known in the DPRK as "defectors" or "traitors" for attempting to escape in hope of a better life and more freedom. NKRs face repatriation, torture, rape, forced abortion, prison camps, and death. They are treated sub-human. Their children live incredibly malnourished and often scrounge for crumbs they find at people's feet.

Inside sources and reliable veterans document the inner workings of this country from China as of July, 2008:

Border patrols on both sides of the Tumen and Yalu Rivers are being beefed up with more guards and shorter distances between them. The North Korean border patrol has a "shoot-on-sight" order for NKRs trying to cross the border illegally. One activist reported that snipers are now being posted at elevated positions above the river, giving them a wider view and a longer time to train their scopes on fleeing NKRs.

Widespread house-to-house checks by Chinese police in border areas were administered to ferret out NKRs in Chinese households as of the past few months. The work of volunteers has been hindered by an extreme tightening of hotel and guesthouse registration requirements. As of the last few months, rules are strictly enforced that the passport of each traveler must be registered with the H/G, and this data processing is directly accessible by the local police office, giving no anonymity to the guests. In a similar vein, Internet café access may only be gained by showing a Chinese national ID card.

Police officials in the Chinese and North Korean border regions are authorized to issue substantial bounties to the local ethnic Korean-Chinese population to reveal the whereabouts of NKRs hiding in their neighborhoods. These bounties have increased in recent months and are designed to undermine the sympathy that the ethnic Korean-Chinese population naturally has for their NKR cousins from across the river. Bounties are also offered in larger sums for information on any local resident or foreigner who might be helping the NKRs in China.

How many are crossing secretly along the two-river border that stretches many hundreds of miles between China and North Korean is unknown, but the rapidly worsening food situation inside the DPRK (exacerbated by a recent embargo by the Chinese government of grain exports due to the global food crisis, the more strict regulation of food aid by the new South Korean government, and declining distribution worldwide by the World Food Program) increases the "push factors" on North Korean citizens taking the chance to cross.

Widespread reports at the border area confirm that food shortages are now critical in the central part of the country and news of death from malnutrition is becoming more widespread, always with comparisons to the severity of food shortages in the mid-1990's. Prices have soared, and a growing number of black marketers inside NK are deliberately withholding rice to further escalate the price in spite of the famine.

The best estimate we have received from experts located on the border is that roughly 30% of the NKRs are caught by the Chinese and sent back at present. One recent and reliable report indicated the continued use of forced abortions on some pregnant NKR females who are repatriated. A testimony heard on May 12, 2008 told of a NKR mother of two small children, ages 6 and 7, who was repatriated to North Korea the previous day without her children. The authorities paid no heed to the mother-children relationship and callously repatriated the mother only. The activist said that this indicated a new level of hardening of the Chinese position in such cases.

As the activist observer passed the Tumen Detention Center, one knowledgeable resident who was driving the vehicle stated that the there are currently 600 NKRs being held by Chinese authorities in that one detention center alone. They are repatriated systematically once a month, according to this well-placed source.

Inside the DPRK, punishments on repatriated NKRs for leaving North Korea without permission are getting heavier. Reports have come that some repatriated NKRs in the North Korean town of Hoeryong are being forced to walk up to 40 km. to a worksite and the same distance back in a work camp, as part of their punishment for fleeing their homeland.

Friday, November 14, 2008

God Issues Today: "The Cowboys and the Cabinet"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"I may not be able to pass the Obama administration's application process, but I've already qualified for a position in an even higher cabinet," Dr. Denison writes in today's post at God Issues
.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Midland-based Group: Prominent House Church Leader in China Released After International Outcry

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.

Issued by ChinaAid, November, 2008 ...

BEIJING, CHINA - Pastor “Bike” Zhang Mingxuan, his wife and his wife’s sister were declared “free” by government officials on October 27, 2008 at 1 p.m. in Nanyang, Henan province as a direct result of international outcry on their behalf. It is believed that the three were being held to prevent them from attending the third anniversary of the Chinese House Church Alliance which was held in Beijing on October 20. Pastor Bike, President of the Chinese House Church Alliance, was one of approximately 300 delegates invited to attend the celebration. Because of police harassment, only about 100 of the delegates made it to Beijing for the event.

Pastor Bike was first detained on October 16, after his sons, Zhang Jian and Zhang Chuang, were beaten by police and his wife was evicted from their apartment. The Public Security Bureau (PSB) sent out two separate groups to arrest the family. One group of PSB officers picked up Pastor Bike at the Kunming Airport. Another group arrested his wife and his wife’s sister in Beijing and took them to Nanyang city, Henan province. Pastor Bike was detained in the PSB office of Shilin city, Yunnan province with about 15 PSB officers watching and questioning him in turn. On October 23, Pastor Bike was transported by police car to Nanyang city by two PSB officers from the PSB of Nanyang city. He and his wife along his wife’s sister were detained at Wenquan Hotel in Nanyang city until October 27 when they were all declared “free”.

Pastor Bike’s sons, Zhang Jian and Zhang Chuang, moved with their families to Nanyang city, Henan province under police pressure soon after the October 16 attack. They are still recovering from their injuries. However, Pastor Bike’s younger son, Zhang Chuang, has been ordered by his landlord to report back to Beijing and move out of the apartment that he is legally renting. The landlord has been under pressure from PSB officers to formally evict Zhang Chuang to force him permanently out of Beijing. Zhang Jian, Pastor Bike’s oldest son, was evicted from his apartment immediately following the October 16 police attack.

The harassment of the Zhang family is believed to be directly supported by the “Citizen Informant Initiative” of the Beijing State Security Bureau issued July 25, 2008 which requires Beijing citizens to report those “engaging in activities that endanger state security by utilizing religions.” It is believed that officials want not only to force the Zhang family from Beijing, but also to suppress the Chinese House Church Alliance house churches.

After his release, Pastor Bike went directly to Beijing to meet with Chinese House Church Alliance house church members and to settle his apartment contract. At the anniversary celebration of the House Church Alliance on October 20 in Beijing, the approximately 100 Chinese House Church Alliance delegates who made it to Beijing issued a public statement, declaring they will continue live out their faith and care for the poor and orphans despite persecution.

After China Aid reported about the attack against Pastor “Bike” Zhang Mingxuan’s family and the arrest of Pastor Bike that followed, American churches, government officials and individuals expressed deep concern. As a direct result of the international outcry to the Chinese government, Pastor Bike was released. ChinaAid thanks all who voiced concern for this family, and will continue to post updates on this situation.

God Issues Today: "Driving Under Hypnosis"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"Remember the source of your personal worth. You are not what you do, or have, or how you look, or what people think of you. You are the child of God," Dr. Denison writes in today's post at God Issues
.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

God Issues Today: "If Two People Always Agree, One Isn't Necessary"

Author, educator and commentator Dr. James Denison has been pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas since June, 1998. Prior to that, he was pastor at churches in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Midland (at First Baptist!) and Mansfield, Texas.

"We've been asking how Christians should respond to the election. As we have seen, we owe the president-elect our consistent intercession and prayer support (1 Timothy 2:1-4)," Dr. Denison writes in today's post at God Issues
.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Midlander Invited to Speak at Human Rights Conference in South Korea

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.

Issued by ChinaAid, November 1, 2008 ...

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - Bob Fu, President and Founder of ChinaAid, spoke at the fifth general meeting of International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights (IPCNKR) on October 25, 2008 in Seoul, South Korea. This year’s conference addressed human rights issues in China and Bob Fu was invited as a special guest speaker.

Faces of Children: Prayer Requests

Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Our mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, we seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).

Prayer Concerns for the week of 11/10/08

Democratic Republic of Congo
• Please pray for the children of eastern Congo who continue to be affected by violence that has displaced more than 200,000 people. More than 5 million people have died since 1998 because of war-related violence, hunger and disease.
A Report from alertnet.org
Another Report from alertnet.org
• Pray for children and people roaming the countryside seeking shelter, food, water and medical care. Pray for their safety and provision. An estimated 60,000 children have been displaced in the recent fighting. Pray for those who have been separated from family members and must fend for themselves.
Another Report from alertnet.org
• Pray for aid workers and church members who are at great risk as they help the children of this volatile area.
• Pray for the estimated 40,000 girls and women who are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Congo.

U.N. World Health Organisation Media Center
A Report from alertnet.org
• Pray for a peaceful resolution between rebel groups and the Congolese government.
A Report from the Washington Post
A Report from alertnet.org

Niger
• Please pray for children in Niger affected by the withdrawal of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). The government of Niger ordered the medical charity to cease operations within the country, leaving thousands of children at risk.

Thailand
• Pray for Anthony * who is committed to helping hill tribe children and youth in refugee camps on the border of Thailand and Burma. Many of these children and young people do not have identity documents and are forbidden to leave the refugee camp. Anthony helps them with this process, but he is extremely frustrated and anxious because he also lacks documents needed to legally enter and reside in Thailand.
* Name changed for confidentiality and/or protection.
• Pray for hill tribe children and youth who feel hopeless about the future because of their present situation.

Uganda
• Please be in prayer for the disabled children receiving treatment at the CURE International Hospital in Uganda and especially for a 14-year-old boy named Mumo and a 14-year-old girl named Wavinya.

Zimbabwe
• Please pray for the children and people of Zimbabwe during this very difficult time in their country. The inflation rate, running at about 20 trillion percent, has caused extreme shortages of food and basic goods, and threatens the stability of southern Africa.
A Report from the Washington Post
A Report from the New York Times
• Pray that God will comfort and provide for the daily needs of the children and vulnerable affected by this devastating situation.
• Pray for the teachers, nurses, garbage collectors and janitors who cannot afford to pay rising transportation costs to get to their jobs because their salaries continue to devalue. Pray for their children and families.
• Pray for stability in this region and hope for its children and people. Pray that God will convict the hearts of Zimbabwe’s leaders and fill them with compassion for those in need.

Faces of Children
• Please continue to pray for more churches and individuals to be brought into the ministry of Faces of Children, spread awareness about children in crisis, and invite more people to pray for children at risk.