New Open Doors USA Program Connects Students to Persecuted Christians

 

Open Doors USA

SANTA ANA, Calif., March 14, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ – The new Open Doors USA college and youth program called “Open Doors Fortify” is off to a fast start.

“We are excited about what God has done through this new outreach to students,” says Open Doors USA College & Youth Director Kate Yates. “There is such enthusiasm among the students I have met in the last few months. They have a passion to reach out to persecuted believers in prayer and in other tangible ways. It has been a joy to interact with them.”

At a recent youth event in Nashville, a total of over 300 students committed to pray and advocate for persecuted Christians, who are the most oppressed faith group in the world. Students can link arms and hearts with suffering Christians through two new programs – United in Christ and Change for Change.

United in Christ offers the opportunity to encourage Christians in war-torn Iraq through the use of social media. Young people are urged to record a video message of hope and prayers for believers in Iraq, which is ranked No. 4 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. The messages are posted on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube with the hashtag #UIC2014. Open Doors facilitates distributing the posts to the proper places.

“Christians face severe persecution and violence in Iraq,” says Yates. “Though there were more than 1.5 million Christians living there in 2003, Open Doors now estimates that only 330,000 believers remain. The United in Christ outreach program sends a message of hope to Christians, especially young Christians, in Iraq.”

An Open Doors field worker says: “It’s heart warming that so many young people are praying for Iraq. We can’t wait to show persecuted Christians the videos so they can see they are not forgotten by their fellow followers of Jesus.”

To watch the videos from around the world, go to www.uic2014.org.

The Change for Change campaign asks students across America to give up something they value or usually purchase for one month and donate the money to help support persecuted Christians in the nearly 60 countries where Open Doors works.  Students can sacrifice coffee, soft drinks, snacks or hobbies for a week and contribute that money toward the ministry of Open Doors. Supporters then can send a check with the funds saved to: Open Doors USA, 1956-J University Blvd. S #255, Mobile, AL 36609.

Formerly Yates was intellectual property manager for Open Doors International. She has a Master of Arts degree in Christian education from Talbot Theological Seminary (CA) and more than 10 years’ experience in youth ministry. She has traveled throughout Africa, the Middle East and Europe to meet and encourage persecuted believers.

Church Planting Goes Out of the Box with Planterpal

ST. JOSEPH, Mich., March 4, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — What does a church on Sunday morning have to do with Ebay?  Hopefully plenty, says Kevin Hester, an SBC church planter at The Shore Church in St. Joseph, Michigan.  His vision is not to see church attenders shopping online auctions during the sermon, but for the church to collect items from around their homes and bring them in on March 9 to be given to a church planter. The planter will use online auctions such as Ebay, Amazon, and Craigslist in order to sell the items and use the money as support for themselves and their family or for their church plant.

For sixteen years, Kevin has used Ebay off and on, to help supplement his own income. Kevin knows, the financial battles that church planters face, especially in Michigan. Michigan is hurting economically and these economic difficulties are affecting planters here. While some church plants may receive support, many are still struggling to make ends meet.  They seek support from established churches but those churches are often unable to help or are already giving elsewhere.  Kevin believes Ebay Sunday offers the perfect opportunity for churches to get involved in church planting, without affecting their budget or the other giving they have already committed to. The best part is how easy it is. A church will simply choose a planter, collect items, and then make arrangements to get their items to the planter.

Ebay Sunday will kick-off on March 9, 2014 (also Spring Forward Sunday,) as we near Spring and we are thinking about planting, but any church can host an Ebay Sunday anytime and as often as they wish to help support and encourage a planter.   Kevin’s sponsoring church, Monroe Missionary Baptist Church in Monroe, Michigan loved the idea of Ebay Sunday and will be collecting items, loading them up in a U-haul, and driving them across the state.

Kevin’s desire for his plant, The Shore Church, is to become a church planting center and with other planters already moving his way, The Shore can use all the support and items they can get. Kevin has also started a website, www.churchplantingoutofthebox.com that explains Ebay Sunday and gives ideas for hosting Ebay Sunday at your church. Kevin’s prayer is that churches across America don’t just “Watch” this opportunity but they decide to “Buy It Now!”

Biola ‘Lent Project’ Layers Scripture, Art, Music to Create Meaningful Lenten Experience

Biola Lent Project

LA MIRADA, Calif., March 5, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ – The Christian season of Lent has been underemphasized in many evangelical circles in recent history, but there is much this liturgical period preceding Easter can offer, according to Biola University President Barry H. Corey.

Biola University’s Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts has developed The Lent Project – a 54-day calendar to guide believers on a reflective journey using a layering of Scripture, devotional texts, works of art, poetry, videos and music.

“It is the quiet, reflective, preparatory season of Lent that perfectly meshes with the arts,” said Barry Krammes, art professor and director of the CCCA. “The meditative nature of the arts solidifies and calls forth a self-examination appropriate for this time.”

The calendar starts March 5, Ash Wednesday, and continues through Holy Week and Bright Week, ending Sunday, April 27. The Lent Project intends to inspire and create space for daily reflection and meditation — an occasion to pray with one’s eyes and ears as well as heart and mind.

“More than just a 40-day period of abstaining from coffee or chocolate (or whatever else might tempt you), Lent is a meaningful liturgical season of anticipating the focal point of our faith: Christ’s sacrifice for us and the universal hope which his resurrection represents,” said Corey. “Lent can be a beautifully reflective time for us to quiet our hearts and lean in to the spectacular reality of the cross, the crown and the empty tomb.”

Lent is not just the practice of the spiritual disciplines of abstinence, but of engagement as well. Rather than being viewed exclusively as a season of dower self-denial, Lent encourages Christians to fully and joyfully enter into the life of Christ.


“Because of the overwhelming response to The Advent Project, the CCCA staff has prayerfully fashioned a 54-day Lent Project as a gift to the Christian community,” said Krammes.

For centuries artists have been inspired by the themes of Christ’s crucifixion, passion and resurrection. The Lent Project features works of art and music from the span of church history. Included are classic paintings and some of the oldest Lenten hymns, as well as contemporary music, art and photography from the 21st century. Each day’s entry contains a portion of Scripture, a devotional or piece of poetry, a work of visual art or a short video, as well as a piece of music. Each pairing is a unique, often surprising gift to usher believers through the Lenten season.

Experience The Lent Project: ccca.biola.edu/lent.

Subscribe to receive daily entries from The Lent Project: ccca.biola.edu/lent/feed.

Watch a video introduction to the project: ccca.biola.edu/lent/#day-introduction.

Christian Program Brings Hope and Dignity to India’s ‘Blamed and Rejected’ Widows

Indian Widows Ministry

SWINDON, England, March 5, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ – A church-based program is helping tens of thousands of widows in India each year to lift themselves out of poverty and isolation – the fate that awaits many Indian women who lose their husbands.

“Widows in India suffer. It is the culture here,” states Esther, who lost her husband four years ago.

Having become a Christian through a church-run tailoring class, she met her husband at Bible College and had two children. When her husband died of an AIDS-related illness, Esther faced even more rejection and ridicule than the amount usually faced by widows here. But she found love and support through the ‘Hope Givers’ program, run by the Bible Society of India. Even when she tested positive for HIV – a huge stigma in India – Esther saw it as another way in which she could help others in the same position.

This is one of the most powerful effects of the program: the women who are helped go on to help others. Esther now pastors a small church, speaks openly about her HIV status and is a volunteer in the program, which provides much-needed practical, emotional and spiritual support to widows in five provinces.

“You are widowed because you did something wrong in your previous life: that is the view in this predominantly Hindu culture,” explains Dr. Leelavathi Manasseh of the Bible Society. “So, whether a widow is from a rich or poor background, she faces blame, mistreatment and rejection by her family. Many are kicked out of their homes and left to fend for themselves and their children, leaving them in a desperate situation.”

The program teaches women income-generating skills such as juice-making and candle-making, provides counselling and helps the women access government support. It also provides Scriptures and runs Bible study groups to help them understand their worth and purpose in God’s eyes.

“When they ask us, ‘Why are you helping me?’ we tell them about Jesus and his great love for widows, children and other vulnerable people,” notes Dr. Manasseh. “This is a surprising message for them, and they want to know more. They are very open to the Gospel.

“We directly help around 5,000 women a year, and they go on to reach out to as many as 40,000 to 50,000 people.”