By Julie Bourdon
Honduras (MNN) – Honduras is said to have one of the highest murder rates in the world. In some cities, the violence is so bad, it’s only slightly safer than a war zone. Take San Pedro Sula, for example. According to Reeuters, about 200 people fled the city in a month’s time earlier this year. The violence stems from gang activity, intertwined with drugs and organized crime. Sadly, children are often drawn into the violence, one way or another.
Sharing the Gospel as an organization
World Missionary Press provides Gospel literature in hundreds of languages for organizations and individuals around the world. One of their major distributors in Honduras is addressing these societal issues with two very important tools—education and the Gospel. A branch of their ministry called Children’s Gift Ministry is reaching out to children specifically.
Helen Williams of World Missionary Press says last December, they received a call from this distributor with a testimony of how the last shipment of booklets was helping their network of pastors.
“He said, ‘Because of what you sent us, we were able to evangelize more than 25,000 children and young people in this particular area.’”
One pastor, for example, hands out the booklets with colored teddy bears called “faith bears.” These bears are color-coordinated to tell the salvation story. The booklets and the bears work together to help children understand the Gospel.
But as is often the case, the praise report came with a request. The group was nearly out of Scripture booklets, and the school year was about to start!
Part of Children’s Gift Ministry is the annual "Back To Classes With Jesus" program. It provides children, aged six to 12, with a backpack full of supplies. These backpacks can be the difference between going to school, or not.
Church leaders hold local, community-wide evangelism events. As they distribute the backpacks, pastors take the children through the Scripture booklets from World Missionary Press. Each child receives their own booklet. Many children have given their lives to Jesus during these events. And as the program grows, so does the potential to see lasting change in Honduras.
“You know, you reach these children, you have a chance to change a culture and change a community, and change a nation. And that’s what the Spirit can do through His Word,” Williams says.
So before the current school year began, World Missionary Press sent a large shipment of booklets, including some in the Miskito language. When classes started up, the back to school program had reached 30,000 children in 200 locations across Honduras. That means 30,000 children got to encounter the Word of God.
“They are going to know the Scriptures, they’re going to have it in their hand, they’re going to take it home, it goes with the backpacks, it’s taught,” Williams says.
In addition to the backpack project, these booklets are an important part of pastoral outreach, church planting, and discipleship. And so, the requests for more Scripture booklets keep coming.
“For many of those people and their churches and believers down there, this will be the closest thing they get to a Bible. And so, we just want to encourage people that the Lord is blessing and the Lord is using this and we are trying to keep up. This is one major distributor out of about 85 that we have that keep saying, ‘hey, that was wonderful, can I have some more?’”
Later this year, World Missionary Press will be sending another shipment with about 500,000 pieces of literature going out. Williams says the shipment, made up of both Spanish and Miskito booklets, will be one of their largest to Honduras.
Sharing faith as an individual
But it’s not just organizations that have effectively used Scripture booklets for ministry. Williams shares one story that shows the power of the individual who is willing to share God’s Word.
She received a letter from a lady earlier this month who lives in a low-income housing project in Colorado.
“She says, ‘I gave some of your booklets to the cleaning lady in the morning. And then in the afternoon, God led me to verbally witness to her. She then received Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior. She was ready and willing and I am very happy about this.’”
This lady wasn’t just sending a praise report, she was requesting more material. Why? To keep on witnessing. The woman explained that people come and go all the time. Most of them accept the booklets, and she has been blessed every time she’s handed one out.
Williams says, “I think of this wonderful lady who just gave a Scripture booklet to the cleaning gal that came to her apartment, and later in the day followed the Spirit’s prompting to talk to this lady directly, and a child of God was born, a soul came to Christ.”
For Williams this story means that, “there is no one that the Spirit cannot use if we’re willing to be used and He will bring us the opportunities if we are sensitive to His leading.”
And that applies across cultures and language barriers, too. In fact, World Missionary Press is equipping ordinary, monolingual people to witness to their neighbors who come from other countries and have a different first language.
“Everywhere you’re going to run into someone who speaks Arabic, or French, or Spanish, or Portuguese, or Swahili, or Gujarati, or Hindi. And we can provide them material—just one or two booklets that they can share with an in-law or a neighbor or a tradesmen or a friend, someone that they want to share the truth of the Scripture but not quite sure how to get it across.”
By Julie Bourdon
Nicaragua (MNN) – Fifteen years ago, missionary Steve Bakos entered a region of the world shrouded in spiritual darkness. The people group he encountered had very little access to Scripture and among them were those practicing witchcraft.
Steve Bakos has been a missionary for 27 years, starting in Mexico for the first 12 and serving in Nicaragua to the present time. He has been distributing booklets from World Missionary Press for over two decades.
While Nicaragua is mostly a Spanish-speaking nation, there are minority language groups. Bakos says, “Up in the [Northeastern] part of the country, there is an indigenous people group, the Miskito Indians which have their own dialect and the vast majority of them speak no Spanish. So when the Lord led us there 15 years ago—it is a very remote region, a lot of poverty. But having worked in Mexico amongst poverty, what impacted me the most was not the poverty of the people but [a] region void of the Word of God.”
When he encountered the Miskito people, he partnered with World Missionary Press to begin translating their Scripture booklets into the Miskito language. Twenty-four months later, the project was completed.
“For about 96% of the entire population in that region, it was the first time they had ever seen the Word of God in their own written language. And since that time the impact that the Word of God has brought to that region is unbelievable. There’s story after story.”
Local witch turns to freedom in Christ
One of Bakos’ favorite stories, for example, is about a man named General from one of the Miskito villages.
He says, “General was the most feared witch on the entire Río Coco river—over 50 years practicing witchcraft. And it was a very, very, dark, dark region. Very active spiritually in the witchcraft. But as we began to come in there with the Gospel and again leaving the literature, explaining the literature, it began to transform that region.
“And one particular trip we made, General came up to me and basically said, you know ‘I never knew about this, but will you tell me how I can accept Jesus?’ and that day he received Jesus, burned all of his tools, if you will, of the trade and has never looked back. And he’s been living for the Lord ever since and that was over 12 years ago.”
Meeting the Provider
Not only were hearts transformed by the bringing of the Gospel, but those who accepted Jesus began to see their circumstances in a new light. The Miskito people, Bakos says, live a simple life in a remote part of the world. So remote, in fact, that the different villages are most easily accessed along the river in dugout canoes. These people farm for their food. They have no electricity, and everything is done by hand.
For many years, their efforts to produce a strong crop to feed their communities has been thwarted by a number of difficulties.
“Year after year they were cursed with plagues. The rice wouldn’t produce or the river would flood and they would lose their crops and they went years without food. And as the Gospel came in, I’d tell them … , ‘God is the provider. Look to the Lord, not to man to meet your needs.’” And as they began to understand more and more about God through his Word, they came to trust in him. And then God provided them with vitamin enriched rice to eat. Now, their children are no longer dying from hunger but are healthy and growing.
“They’re giving God the glory for his provision because, not only does he save and forgive, but they’re understanding that he is the source, that he is the provider of all they need even when the things of this life throw you a curve, so to speak.”
Bakos says through this event, God illustrated his love and care for the Miskito people.“Just as God has brought his Word here, he has confirmed his Word in that he does provide.”Today, the Word of God continues to transform thousands of lives among the Miskito people.
Even so, there are still a variety of challenges the ministry faces on a logistic level. Because there are no roads, transporting people and Scripture booklets and other supplies has been difficult. Mud and rain mean traversing over land is trying, and so much of the transportation has to be done by the river.
“It’s a challenge in a good way … because one of the other fruits that has happened since the booklets have come there and the Word of God, is now many of the people who have come to the Lord and God has birthed churches –we are sending out native missionaries, born-again, Christian Miskitos to share the Gospel with their fellow Miskito Indians.”
Right now, Bakos and his ministry are sending out 50 native missionaries a month to share the Gospel using Scripture booklets and a study of John from World Missionary Press.
Will you ask God to guide their paths as they continue this outreach? Pray for the necessary resources to be provided and for hearts to be open to the Gospel.
And if you are a missionary or just a believer wanting to reach out to your community, consider ordering Scripture booklets, free of cost, to hand out.
Katey Hearth (MNN) — Iquitos, Peru, is known as a global hub for so-called “spiritual tourism”. Thousands flock to the jungle village each year seeking spiritual encounters and a dangerous drink called ayahuasca.
But, the dark magic that’s so common here is no match for the power of Christ.
“It’s a tremendous testimony to the power of the Word and the faithfulness of those who continue to give it and preach in the face of the enemy,” states Helen Williams of World Missionary Press.
“Our partner just sent us an email that said… a man almost ran to the front of the church to give his heart to Jesus,” Williams shares.
“He belonged to a cult of Satanists…. They’d been sent out to destroy the largest churches that were preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and this man had been assigned to this church in Iquitos. But, he could not resist the power of God, and ended up receiving Jesus Christ as his Savior.”
Because the man couldn’t return to the group of Satanists, he took shelter in the church’s safe house. Once the group had left, the man moved on to start a new life and learn more about the God who saved him.
Iquitos: spiritual tourism and ayahuascaIquitos is Peru’s largest jungle city.
In 2014, AmusingPlanet.com dubbed Iquitos “the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road.” Surrounded by thick rainforest on one side and the Amazon River on the other, Peru’s largest jungle city may be difficult to access. But, that doesn’t stop the tourists.
Ayahuasca – a plant-based brew that produces hallucinogenic effects when consumed – is traditionally used by Peruvian shamans to access the spiritual world. Over the past decade, the drink has attracted growing numbers of people who want to “experience the sacred.”
“I went into the experience a devout atheist,” an Australian woman told News.com.au.“Now I am very open minded to the fact that something may exist beyond what we consciously see, the same way that we know infra-red and UV light exists even though we physically can’t see it.”
According to a June report by The Guardian, “Every year thousands descend on the city, where centres offering ayahuasca have sprung up in the surrounding forest, while lodges offering ‘jungle tours’ or ‘nature tours’ include ayahuasca as well.”
While ayahuasca is a relatively “new” discovery to mainstream culture, the witchcraft associated with it goes way back. In fact, according to this 2013 blog by Christian missionary Scott Doherty, “Whether poor or rich, uneducated or educated, young or old, almost everyone has used witchcraft at some point…The reality is that witchcraft and the occult is greatly manifested in Peru.”
World Missionary Press sends Scripture booklets so believers can fight darkness with the light of Christ. For $5, you can help WMP print and send 125 Scripture booklets to the church in Iquitos. Click here to get involved.
“Their ministry has been most effective when they’ve dealt with healing, helping people heal (from past traumas) and being open doors to those who are struggling,” says Williams, “whether it’s women who’ve been abused, or orphans, or young people with no place else to go except to wander the streets.”
She says the Iquitos church they partner with takes hurting people in and offers them the hope of the Gospel.
“That’s what’s worked there, and what works around the world, because people are needy and Christ is the answer for that need.”
Scripture booklets needed in Europe BY JULIE BOURDON Europe (MNN) — As violence in the Middle East rages on, refugees are flooding into Europe.
Helen Williams of World Missionary Press says that Christians in Western Europe want to help. And so, they’ve shared the one thing that is most precious to them: the Gospel. Many of them have asked for assistance.
“World Missionary Press provides Scripture in many different languages. Even if you don’t know how to speak your neighbor’s language, you can deliver a wonderful message. (Photo courtesy of World Missionary Press).scripture booklets that are designed to introduce people to the one true God, the message of salvation, and then bring them to a decision.”
Williams says explaining that the requests for scripture booklets in Europe have been immense. Many of these refugees have not previously been exposed to the Gospel. Their presence in Europe is an exciting opportunity.
“We hear politically that it’s a difficult situation—and it is—for the countries in Europe, and yet it’s an open door for the Gospel,” Williams says.
Stories from the field:
In Germany, a team of Christians were waiting for Syrian Muslims to arrive.
“When they got to Munich, someone introduced them to the Scriptures and to the Gospel and ten of them were born again. And these ten have gathered together to reach out to the rest of the Muslims that are coming through.”
The Christians who got to witness this wanted to emphasize their amazement at God’s power in changing hearts. So now, as hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees are living in Germany, the team wants to reach all of them. Scripture booklets could expedite this process. World Missionary Press is working on getting them scripture booklets in Arabic and any other languages they may need.
Williams explains that when refugees get off the train in Helsinki, Christians are usually waiting for them. In many cases, when they go to give them a booklet that shares the Gospel, refugees will show them they’ve already received one. This means on the road between Syria and Finland, Christians have been considerate of their need for the Gospel.
World Missionary Press also received a letter from a woman in Sweden. A woman was asking for more booklets. She saw the plight of the refugees around her, and the only thing she knew to do was to share with them her greatest hope in Jesus Christ.
Williams explains that the individuals and groups handing out the booklets are simply people who are wanting and willing to give hope, and they’ve taken a look around them to see the need of the refugees. “These people have hungry hearts and they have needy hearts and now’s the time.”
Someone might wonder why, when the refugees have lost everything they have, Christians might choose to give them a booklet of scripture. “I think a lot of it comes from their own experience with the Lord,” Williams says. God was their comfort in their own time of pain and loss, and so that is what they want to give to these people who seem so hopeless. “Many of these people are offering the scripture booklets along with food and water and blankets and shoes,” Williams says.
Scripture Booklets in your own neighborhood
The situation in Europe is not unique in that there are people all around us every day who for one reason or another have not heard the Gospel. Some communities may stick to themselves, having come from one country. There could be language barriers that have kept others from reaching out to them.
“I think if people have open eyes, they’ll find that there are people all over who would love to have the Word in their language, and they never have totally understood it, never been reached,” says Williams. There are opportunities at your own front door. So, look around you. You never know who has or has not heard about the hope found in Jesus. If you find a group in need, contact World Missionary Press for resources.
You can be a part of what is happening in Europe by assisting World Missionary Press. They currently have requests for around 72 million pieces of literature. They’re working on new languages, connecting with new distributors, desiring to get the Gospel into more heart languages. To help, click here.
Williams says their greatest need is for prayer—for their mission, for the people that are reaching out, and for the people that are being reached. When refugees flee to other countries, they usually have nothing.
“What they’ve lost is what this world has. Their possessions— maybe they’ve lost family as well— but they’ve lost their place in society, many of them, they’ve lost the homeland.“ Some of these things are not replaceable. Much of the trauma will affect them forever. So merely meeting their physical needs, while necessary, is not enough.
“That’s what the Word of God does—it offers hope that is outside of this world, that cannot be taken away.”
PUBLISHED ON 15 JUNE, 2017 BY JULIE BOURDON Cambodia (MNN)
Despite economic growth in the last couple of decades, Cambodia continues to be one of the poorest countries in Asia. But, what would it look like to address not only the physical poverty in Cambodia, but the spiritual poverty as well?
Cambodia is a Buddhist dominant nation with nearly 90 percent of the people claiming that religion. Christianity accounts for just over one percent of the population . In this sense, Cambodia is a spiritually dark nation.
Hope: an answer to poverty Last year, we introduced you to Tom Faunce, a missionary who is passionate about sharing the Gospel in war-torn countries like Cambodia (read some of his backstory here). Faunce is a longtime friend and distributor of World Missionary Press. Over the last several years, Faunce has established contacts on the ground and the Gospel sharing ministry continues to grow. In fact, the pastor he works with in the area has been overwhelmed by the number of young Christians who want to learn more about Jesus.
So, how has that happened? What Faunce has learned over the years is that often times, people aren’t interested in what you have to say if you can’t put action behind it. Simple acts of compassion can open the doors and let people know they are truly loved and cared for.
Faunce says, “We’ve made a tremendous inroad, mainly up in the highlands on the Vietnam border, not only with the Scripture booklets, [but also with] water wells which open up a tremendous amount of villages.”
On his most recent trip, Faunce brought over fifty pairs of shoes for children in the highlands area. He wasn’t sure how the distribution would go, considering that they hadn’t taken measurements of the children. But miraculously, each and every child found a pair of shoes that fit them.
On previous trips, he and his team have installed wells in villages, some of which house several women who became widows during Cambodia’s recent violent history.
Through gifts like these, Buddhist villages that were previously resistant to the Gospel have welcomed Faunce and local Christians into their community. They utilize a variety of Gospel sharing methods including the Jesus Film, child story posters, and audio books from the Bible Alliance to share the Word of God in the villagers’ language. Additionally, in Cambodia and beyond, Faunce has been able to saturate communities with Scripture booklets from World Gospel Mission.
Faunce believes the Gospel will be able to touch and heal some of the scars left over from the war. He says, “These are people that know what it is to suffer. And people respond to love.”
But it’s not just the Buddhist communities who are embracing the Gospel. Ministering to the boat people in more recent years, they’ve also been reaching out to a group of Muslim boat people who live on the river. Upon meeting some of the fishermen one early morning, he learned that the people had many needs, and so he gave them what money and Scripture booklets he had with him. “I started going back and ended up befriending them. We started bringing the tremendous amount of needs they had.”
Many of the families slept under torn tarps, and Faunce helped them get new ones. Others were boiling grass for food, and so Faunce and his co-laborers helped to get them some rice. These acts of compassion have built a bridge between him and the boat people.
“Every trip, I’ve been going back and when I go there, they just come up and just respond. They hug us and just know that we love them. And that’s the Gospel, that you be a testimony to them and serve them.” But, Faunce says, wherever you go with the Gospel, you will face resistance. In this case, the opposition came in the form of fear. Many of the people Faunce spoke with accepted the Scripture booklets and read them, but would hide them from the rest of the community. The religious leadership was strict, and they could get in trouble for reading the Scripture. But as time went on, the people opened up to hear more about Jesus. And this, Faunce says, is the main thing.
“We can do a lot of good things — wells, feedings, clothing — but if we’re not giving the Word of God, that’s a band-aid on cancer. The answer is Jesus Christ.” In both the villages in the highlands and the community on the river, Faunce continues to share the Gospel and witness the change it is making in Cambodia. Even so, he says he doesn’t try to count the number of people responding. “God knows,” he says. “The important thing is to reach out, [and] begin to establish a fellowship with them.”
In between trips, a young couple Faunce has made friends with continues the outreach to both the boat people and the villages in the hills. “And that’s our goal, is to continually show up and love them. And the Bible says some plant, some water, but He alone brings the increase.”
Check back in later to learn about Faunce’s upcoming trip to Africa and how you can be praying. In the meantime, if you’d like to support this work, consider partnering with World Missionary Press. This ministry supplies missionaries like Faunce with free Scripture booklets so they can share the Gospel wherever they go. Click here for more information. He says, “It is such a tremendous blessing to have ministries such as World Missionary Press that provide the Word.”
And will you pray? Ask God to bless this ministry, to provide the leadership to lead new Christians, and to change Cambodia from a broken country to one transformed by the Gospel.