Weekly Global News
Updated Every Week
Last update: June 19, 2014
Laos: students denied education because they are Christians (CAM/MNN) — Education holds the key to a brighter future for children who come from impoverished farming villages in Laos. Three high school students were recently denied that right, however, because they are followers of Jesus Christ. Christian Aid Mission assists ministries in Laos that are planting churches and providing for the basic living needs of persecuted families, some of whom are evicted from their communities due to their faith in Christ. On May 20, the chief of Saisomboon village in Savannakhet province prohibited the female students from taking their final examinations at Liansai village school. “The village chief cited that due to their belief in the Christian faith, the three students have thus forfeited their right to education,” according to a report from Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom. The case has been appealed to the Atsaphangthong district education chief, who has spoken with the director of the Liansai village school regarding this issue. The school director and the Saisomboon village chief are expected to reach a decision soon on whether or not to continue disqualifying the Christian students from taking final exams on the basis of their religious beliefs
Malawi: Haggai Institute equips Chakwera for political missions (MNN) — Political leaders in Malawi are giving new meaning to the term “frenemies” — a term combining “friends” and “enemies” that can refer to either an enemy pretending to be a friend or someone who really is a friend but also a rival. Malawi’s new President is meeting this week with some of his opponents to steer the country away from economic collapse. One of those opponents is runner-up Lazarus Chakwera, an alumnus of the Haggai Institute. “One of our alumni, who attended the program of Haggai Institute 28 years ago…decided to increase his influence by moving into politics,” explains Haggai’s John Bachman. Chakwera is new to politics, but his emphasis on integrity won the hearts of voters. Those voters will also be watching to see if Chakwera’s claim to be a Christ-follower matches his actions. Operation World says a majority of Malawians describe themselves as Christians, but Bachman says most of these are nominal believers. A biblical worldview and their training played a central role in Chakwera’s campaign, he adds. “We have in our curriculum a section on the disciplines of a leader, and one of the areas is that our walk must match our talk, and it should be one of integrity,” Bachman notes. Haggai Institute, whose mission is to ignite global missions, provides culturally-relevant training to Christian leaders around the world. “The concept is to, in obedience to the Great Commission, seek strategic ways that Christian leaders can use their platform of leadership to evangelize within their spheres of influence,” explains Bachman. “Over the last 45 years, more than 27,000 have attended our month-long sessions. At the international level, another 66,000 have attended national and regional seminars following a closely-managed curriculum.” While Chakwera didn’t win the presidential bid, he is taking a lead role in Malawi’s Parliament. The 2014 elections resulted in a “hung Parliament,” which means the President’s party failed to win a two-thirds legislative majority. According to poll results, three of the country’s main opposition parties and 52 independents won a majority of the seats; Chakwera was automatically appointed Leader of Opposition. “Our emphasis is not lifting Haggai Institute higher, but that Jesus and the name of Jesus will be heard and understood throughout the world,” says Bachman.
Guatemala: Moving forward in faith to build a school (MNN) — When a government school isn’t enough to educate the amount of children in an area, it takes a strong community to pull together and address the need. When that community is Chuixchimal in Guatemala, the effort must absolutely coincide with God’s help. This community, made up of mostly Mayan, is located in the highlands of Guatemala. Scott Vander Kooy of Worldwide Christian Schools explains that this community is one area where they’re working to minister to people seeking to share about Christ with their community. He says, “There are so many children in this community that the Government’s school can’t accommodate them all. So a couple of years ago, the community of Chuixchimal began in faith to crush river stones into gravel so that they could build a Christ-centered school that could accommodate these kids.” The desire to build a Christ-centered school to meet educational needs was a result of what was already occurring in the community. Vander Kooy explains that “there’s a real spiritual movement within this community, and I think that the community just recognized that a school built around the principles of Christ and His creation could really help propel the children and shape the future of that beautiful community.”
South Sudan: President warns of coming famine (BGR/MNN) — There’s a nightmarish sense of déjà vu about South Sudan. Two decades after Rwanda’s genocide, still in the shadow Ethiopia’s worst famine this century, the twin scourges are back. And this time, they’re focused on a single country. “This is a man-made disaster, and that is why we want the war to stop: [to] allow humanitarian access to the country,” President Salva Kiir told the BBC. “The civilian population is going to face one of the worst famines there has ever been….” The world’s newest nation will barely be three years old and already is on the brink of catastrophe. It’s a combination of drought, poor crops, and man-made conflict. In addition, South Sudan is facing a cholera outbreak, said the international aid organization Oxfam. Hopes for peace evaporated last December when fighting began. Since then, roughly 1 million people have left their homes to escape the violence. Baptist Global Response Executive Director Jeff Palmer says even if a ceasefire happened tomorrow, a food crisis would still emerge in a couple of months because farmers can’t get back to their fields. Humanitarian aid can’t keep up with the growing demand. “On top of the problems inside the country, you’ve got all the refugees that are out.” Living conditions in displacement sites continue to deteriorate due to flooding caused by heavy rains, especially in Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile. While Non-government Organizations are doing a lot of work with feeding the hungry, BGR decided to find out where they could have the most impact. Their team surveyed about 30 small camps in overlooked areas and looked at the food, water, and shelter needs of about 80,000 to 100,000 people, and they listened to people’s stories. From there, Palmer says, “They said if they could have one thing, what they really needed was clean drinking water. We thought that was a priority for us, something that we could do.” “We’re there to help people in their deepest need. Yet, whether they know it or not, their deepest need is to have a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.” Palmer says relationships they build with the people they’re helping allow them a chance to communicate one idea: “It’s a message of hope. We’re concerned about the physical being, but we’re also concerned about the spiritual side, in the long run, of what happens to their lives.”
West Africa: Ebola outbreak leads to Gospel opportunities (RBD, MNN) — “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” This ancient Jewish proverb proved true recently as a medical caravan had to be moved on short notice due to an Ebola outbreak. Since the outbreak began in Guinea, more than 100 deaths have been reported. Infections have also been reported in Liberia, and there are about 50 suspected cases in Sierra Leone. Reach Beyond President and CEO Wayne Pederson says one of their healthcare teams was supposed to hold clinics in Sierra Leone this month. “The Ebola outbreak is kind of a scary thing,” he notes. “It’s killed a lot of people in West Africa, and it’s 90-percent fatal.” Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever with a fatality rate of up to 90 percent, has killed more than 185 people in West Africa since March. Mostly limited to central Africa, wild animals first infect people with Ebola and the virus quickly spreads through human-to-human contact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Ebola first emerged on the world stage 20 years ago. To protect their teams from infection, Reach Beyond moved the mobile medical clinics to northern Ghana. This region is home to many Muslims and animists, people that usually don’t respond to evangelism. But, there’s something about healthcare that sparks conversations about eternity. “By demonstrating care for people’s temporal welfare, we find that they’re much more open to hear the Good News: that God has a plan of salvation for them,” says