Thursday, February 12, 2009

India's bloodshed provides ministry opportunity in year to come

International-2008 was a year of ups and downs for many believers. Glenn Penner with Voice of the Martyrs Canada says one of the good things in their ministry was the expansion into some tricky parts of the world.Growth requires funding, and despite the economic downturn, God not only met their budget needs, but exceeded them. The timing of surplus couldn't be better.Global food shortages combined with financial and natural disaster hit many churches hard. Persecution increased in many places, but Penner says the greatest challenge this year came in India.Upheaval throughout the country has exacted a severe price from the church.Although the Christian community is no stranger to persecution, it has endured its most trying and testing time in its 2,000 years of history.Rioting and harsh retribution for the murder of a Hindu leader in August cost hundreds of believers their lives.The unrest continued to spread, and homes, churches and schools associated with Christians were burned.Threats kept many churches on guard and derailed public celebrations of Christmas.Christmas Day in India was relatively peaceful, and Penner believes it could be simply because authorities are finally responding to the terror threats. There's hope that the worst of the campaign has burned itself out, but in areas where there has been violence, the region remains tense.Penner says their work will not only continue in 2009, but they have plans to expand."Pray for our brothers and sisters.It is what they ask for, first and foremost.Then we're involved with doing advocacy work on their behalf, writing on their behalf, writing to those who are in prison, helping to provide Bibles and legal aid for those that are going through trial, and helping to take care of the families."Part of their focus in 2009 will be responding to church leaders in India. Their plea: "We need to know how to respond Biblically.This is something Voice of the Martyrs focuses on, what we call a 'Biblical theology of persecution'-teaching church leaders, in particular, what the Bible teaches about persecution and then passing it on." That means teaching and resourcing more church leaders to be prepared for what's to come in 2009.
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As in the days of Noah...

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