August 23, 2014
Lottie Moon Christmas Offering Week of Prayer 2011
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In Bhutan, church flexes limited freedom in Buddhist kingdom
SOUTH ASIA (BP) -- Notes of a sacred hymn fade as Dorji Sangay* reads a passage from his Bible. The small congregation follows along in their New Testaments and then discusses the verses.
From where Sangay sits cross-legged on the floor, he can look out the window and see the jagged Himalayan Mountains of his home country, Bhutan. His heart aches to go home. He was forced to leave after being tortured and released from prison in the late 1990s. The crime he committed was sharing Christ.
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Sangay's attention is drawn from the window and his "promised land" back to the Bible study when a woman starts talking to God. The prayer makes him smile. Just a few years ago, his people had no idea how to pray or sing worship songs in their language nor did they have any Bible passages. In fact, there were very few believers back then. Now, he teaches them how to do the same thing that got him arrested -- proclaiming the Gospel. So much has changed for Bhutanese Christians during the last decade that it's nothing short of a miracle -- one that Southern Baptists helped pray into place. In 2001, Southern Baptists committed their National Day of Prayer and Fasting for World Evangelization to the only country recognized as a Tibetan Buddhist kingdom, Bhutan. Baptists prayed for everything from Bible translations to discipleship training to greater religious freedoms. Sangay and other Christian workers say the prayers continue to be answered.
Bhutan Christian calls persecution 'necessary'
SOUTH ASIA (BP) -- There's not a day that goes by that Kencho Kinle* isn't sharing the Gospel door to door. Everyone in the city knows him; some even run when he approaches. His testimony is hard to forget because it is written in blood -- both in Jesus' blood and his family's.
Missions-minded grandma confronts thief -- and wins
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- They knew something was wrong when they spotted a strange car in their driveway. A black Honda. No one was in it, but it was idling.
It was Nov. 8, Election Day. Roger and Vicky Simpson, a retired couple living in Louisville, Ky., had gone out to vote that morning. Afterward, they stopped at McDonald's for breakfast, then headed home. They pulled in behind the Honda and walked around it, not sure what to do next.
"It ticked me off, actually. That's a lot of work and a lot of saving, and he was probably going to do something with it that wasn't nearly as important as Lottie Moon."
"I thought, 'This is weird,'" recalled Vicky, a 61-year-old mother of three and grandmother of five. "I'm one of those who always thinks the worst. If it's good I'm surprised and if it's bad I'm prepared for it, I guess." Roger raised the garage door. "I went into the house through the garage and noticed right away that the glass had been broken out of the door off of our deck," said Roger, 64, who worked 37 years for the Kentucky Farm Bureau. "Little pieces of glass were all over the inside of the house." But he didn't see anyone inside, or out back. He did see a large rock on the back deck, the apparent weapon used to break the door glass. Before calling the police, he figured he'd better warn his wife in case the intruder was still around. That black Honda was still idling, after all. Vicky, meanwhile, was waiting in the driveway. Before Roger came back out, a young man walked around the far corner of the house into the front yard, carrying several items belonging to the Simpsons -- including a plastic bucket full of coins. "It was like he was out for a stroll ..."
Dissolved church's assets carry missions impact
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Members of Sandy Lake Road Baptist Church realized last spring that their mission had been fulfilled. After 45 years of ministry, they closed the church doors.
Japanese couple looks beyond homelessness
TOKYO (BP) -- Sunlight filters through the windows of apartment 201 in a small green building on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan. Outside, blue skies and the first hint of cherry blossoms ...
WEEK OF PRAYER: Japanese businessman goes from high finance to homelessness to faith
TOKYO (BP) -- Kiyoshi Sugioka entered the busy Tokyo train station with a single purpose in mind -- to end his life. Dressed in a business suit and dress shirt, the 53-year-old Sugioka looked like any of the hundreds of Japanese businessmen crowding the station.
Age 60 & homeless, he taps rejuvenated faith for fulfillment
TOKYO (BP) -- A mother and her 7-year-old son pick through a stack of clothes piled on the parking lot pavement. After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami wiped out their house, the only clothes they owned were the ones they were wearing.
The somber-faced duo can't find what they need and stop a man sliding back and forth between the stacks and the truck filled with supplies. Masashi Takahashi nods when the mother asks for children's underwear. The 60-year-old man tugs his soiled baseball cap so low that it touches his smudged glasses before digging into the piles. He never thought he'd see the day a child in Japan stood in a distribution line.
"That's what old homeless men like me do, not children," he mumbles, tugging his cap even lower in an effort to hide a tear as he finds the item. Takahashi is one of the 4,000 homeless living in Tokyo and no stranger to distribution lines. He spends part of each day waiting for food donations or other supplies. He isn't on the giving side of the line very often. So when the chance came to leave his sidewalk "bed" outside of Shinjuku train station to volunteer with Tokyo Baptist Church in one of the hardest-hit tsunami areas more than 240 miles away, Takahashi took it. Who better to minister to those who just lost everything than someone who has nothing? It was through church distributions like this one that Takahashi's heart slowly opened to Christ. After losing his job nine years ago, he took to the streets with only 2,000 yen -- $25 -- in his pocket. He soon learned the only way to survive was by standing in line at church distributions. The only drawback was that they always preached before handing out the food. But as Takahashi points out, you don't have to listen. He didn't for the first seven years. Everything changed the day IMB (International Mission Board) missionary Josh Parks asked him to pray. As the former factory worker spoke to God, childhood memories of giving his life to Christ flooded his heart. From that moment, his faith grew, as did a desire to share it -- leading him to minister in Japan's worst disaster since Hiroshima. The scene around him looks as if a bomb, instead of crashing waves, blew up the fishing village. Houses are splintered into thousands of pieces. A single train car sits mangled in the middle of the town's cemetery. The devastation is overwhelming, yet Takahashi barely slows down to absorb it. He supplies the distribution line until everything is given away and he's utterly exhausted.
WEEK OF PRAYER: China's many factories could provide a channel for the Gospel
DONGGUAN, China (BP) -- The taxi races down the elevated 10-lane highway. There's not much to look at on this journey. Endless rows of blank-faced factories barricaded behind 6-foot metal fences line both sides of the road. Off in the distance, high-rise apartment buildings and unfinished construction projects create a snaggletoothed skyline.
The view is disappointing. When entering a city nicknamed, "The World's Workshop," you expect something grand. Instead, Dongguan is practically invisible. There are no tourist attractions -- just factories. The bus stops, the monuments, the landmarks -- everything exists to serve the factories. The city is divided into 32 districts, each one specializing in a different kind of manufacturing. Cang-an produces electronic components, Humen is famous for high-dollar fashion and Houjie makes shoes. The list goes on and on, with more than 3,000 factories crammed into one city. Every district looks the same: construction sites, cheap restaurants, factories, factories and more factories. Southern Baptist worker David Rice* sees this city through different eyes. His mental map of Dongguan is a labyrinth of ministry possibilities -- a medical clinic here, management training classes over there and maybe a Christian coffee shop in the heart of a red light district. The possibilities are endless. The impact on China is immeasurable. Rice believes that by reaching the factories with the Gospel an entire generation of migrant workers will take the message back to their villages -- often so remote that they are not even on a map, let alone on the radar of Christian strategists. "People come here from all over the country looking for a job," Rice says, noting in one year's time he has met at least one person from all 34 provinces. The name used for migrants -- liudong renkou, or floating population -- implies an aimless mob, but Rice sees a potential army of church planters. The Southern Baptist worker and his ministry partners see this group primed for making major changes in their lives. They are away from the strongholds of their culture back home. They are lonely and searching for meaning. FLOATING POPULATION Lanying Wu* openly admits she has no objectives or goals in her life. The 19-year-old factory worker deftly snips away at her sterile workstation, cutting the outline of a garment. A pile of hot-pink satin sits at her right while a crate of her finished work sits on the left. She left her village to make money for her family and to experience something different. Wu is a second-generation factory worker and part of the largest migration in human history. For the past three decades, Chinese migrants flocked from remote villages and farms to factories in an effort to make money and better themselves. The government estimates nearly 210 million migrants work in various "boomtowns" throughout the country.
Chinese factory is laborer's mission field
DONGGUAN, China (BP) -- Everything about Fa Hsing* is quiet. His voice. His countenance. His strength. A man of few words, his actions speak for him. He puts in no less than 12 hours a day, six days a week on the factory floor in Dongguan, China. It's physically and emotionally draining work, yet he perseveres so he can accomplish his real task -- sharing Christ with fellow workers.
Factory that 'supplies the word' needs Christ
DONGGUAN, China (BP) -- They've already impacted your life. Now it's time to touch theirs. The influence of factories in Dongguan, China, is all over your house. You don't have to look much farther than your cell phone or computer
WEEK OF PRAYER: Human trafficking, amid the despair
SOUTH AFRICA (BP) -- The odors of liquor, smoke and sweat permeate the air. One small bulb lights the alleyway. Traffic is light on the main road, but this side street stays busy.
"Mister!" a young woman yells to a car driving past. "You're the daddy! I'm your little girl and I got what you want right here!" Another woman hides in the shadows, quietly crying. The pimps' laughter rises as they share jokes while smoking and playing cards.
To read more stories about how Southern Baptists are ministering to those trapped in the sex trade, click here.
Two young women share a bottle of alcohol to give them courage to approach the cars driving through the side street. A client parks in the shade, waiting for a woman to join him in the backseat. Another client follows a woman into her pimp's apartment. Thirty minutes later the man leaves.
One after another, the clients pick up the women; somehow there is an endless supply. As one woman leaves, another arrives. Two young women stand in the shadows, hesitant and afraid. Suddenly a pimp approaches and provides them with more drugs. The women begin to sell themselves again. I was convinced I could never end up in a situation like these women -- hooked on drugs and alcohol, forced into prostitution and sold from one man to another. I could never be a slave. I could never be trafficked. One afternoon with a pimp in the park changed my perspective. I knew who he was and what he did. He knew nothing about me. Diallo* was adept at slyly pulling information about my life and passions. I'm not hesitant in sharing my faith, and soon Diallo learned I'm a Christian. Moments later, he invited me to attend church with him. The scenario is all too common. A strong, handsome young man meets a single woman. He is lively and charming. Best of all, he says he's a Christian. New to the area and looking for friends, it would be easy for a woman to fall into his grasp. The innocence of the moment soon can turn into a nightmare. Just one prearranged meeting is all he needs....
Sex trafficker knows 'I make God angry'
SOUTH AFRICA (BP) -- With violence increasing in parts of his Nigerian homeland, Sterling* fled to South Africa to pursue a business opportunity he had been promised by the man who sold him his visa.
Prostitute made new in Rio de Janeiro
RIO DE JANEIRO (BP) -- Viviane Avelina Bezerra's face does not match her story. The shy 25-year-old Brazilian with big brown eyes and a gentle smile carries herself with such humility and kindness that no one would guess that only a year ago, Viviane was selling her body just to get by.
A prostitute young & widowed -- finds faith
Clinics help prostitutes see Jesus

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