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Christian minority feels safe under martial law

map & flag image, courtesy Voice of the MartyrsPhilippines (MNN) — The Filipino military declared a brief ceasefire Sunday, allowing Muslims to peacefully celebrate the end of Ramadan. The lull in the fighting also allowed for the rescue of six civilians trapped in the city of Marawi. Government forces are forging progress toward peace, but it’s slow-going. Earlier last week, about 200 suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) took hostages and holed up for hours inside a school, then took five civilians with them after fleeing. Some say the attack could be a diversion for the Islamic State to gain more ground in Marawi. “That is a common perception because the BIFF is sympathetic to the radical group,” says Herman Moldez with Asian Access, an organization that trains and equips Christian leaders throughout Asia. “In fact, there had been some effort for reinforcement coming from Salou and these areas, and so one of the reasons for the declaration of martial [law] of the entire [island of] Mindanao is for the military to be able to respond quickly and not to complicate the whole matter in Marawi City...

Persecuted ChurchIndian Christians face increasing persecution in recent years

India (MNN) — India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced he will be meeting with United States President Donald Trump later this month to discuss bilateral relations. While that doesn’t necessarily include religious freedom, it will hopefully shed some light on the uptick in pressure on Christians. According to Open Doors USA, radical Hinduism is the main source of persecution in India, and Christian converts are often physically assaulted if they don’t return to their old beliefs. Joe Handley with Asian Access confirms reports that the situation of Christians has worsened in recent years. “Churches are feeling pressured out of their places that they weren’t pressured before,” Handley says. “They pretty much have freedom in certain sectors or areas of the city, but now you’re finding pressure put on them by the business owners, that maybe they rent a facility and are [experiencing] skyrocketing...

Nearly 200 killed, over half a million displaced in flooding

Sri LankansSri Lanka (MNN) — Sri Lanka is facing its worst flooding in over a decade. Torrential rains in the southwestern part of the country have left about 180 dead and over half a million displaced.

“You can’t even reach some of the places down south and in the center,” says Adrian De Visser, a partner of Asian Access, which provides training for Christian leaders across Asia. “And so it is the government with the use of the helicopters and the naval vessels that they are reaching all the people who are out of reach.” While neighboring countries have responded by providing immediate humanitarian assistance, Asian Access is taking a more long-term approach. They want to make sure that once the floodwaters have cleared, the vulnerable aren’t forgotten. “Our strategy has not been always to...

After a brief lull, fighting in Marawi continues

Phillippines ReservesPhilippines (MNN) — Just when it seemed like things were settling down in the Philippines, conflict between government soldiers and ISIS-linked fighters reignited. On Thursday, the Philippine army launched an air strike in the southern city of Marawi to flush out up to 40 fighters hiding in the city. At least 20 people have been killed in the conflict, including soldiers, police officers, and civilians. “I really don’t know how it will go on,” Herman Moldez, the Philippines Country Director for Asian Access, says. “I think this is the reason why the president declared martial law, so that he can really pursue them very well.”

Fighting erupted Tuesday after a failed attack on the hideout of... 

Sometimes ministry means facing uncomfortable situations

Adrian De VisserSoutheast Asia (MNN) – As Christians, we are called not just to spread the Gospel, but to care for the vulnerable as well. And sometimes, that requires us to confront uncomfortable situations. That’s something Adrian De Visser, a pastor from Sri Lanka and partner with Asian Access, says Christians often have a hard time accepting. On a trip to Cambodia, De Visser says he witnessed women, including young girls, being sold for sex. He says the Church must be willing to confront these types of issues, not turn a blind eye to them. “I had to take some of the pastors over there, because you know, in Asian cultures we are very shamed-based, so people are ashamed to even admit what happens in our part of the world,” De Visser says. “But for me, it is a sin of my nation, and I need to address that. It took a lot of teaching, debating, to get them on board to realize that this is a problem the Church must address.” De Visser has taken it upon himself to respond to this issue. He is partnering with a local pastor in Cambodia... 

Ahok

Ahok imprisoned on blasphemy charges, prayers needed

Indonesia (MNN) — In a surprising turn of events, Jakarta’s former governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy. Ahok was Indonesia’s first Christian governor running for re-election. The blasphemy charges were leveled against him by extremist Muslims during the election. After Ahok lost the election, prosecutors moved to drop the blasphemy charges for a lighter charge that would only put Ahok on two years of probation. However, Jakarta judges ignored the prosecution’s advising, and moved ahead with Ahok’s blasphemy trial and sentence.

Asian Access’ Joe Handley explains, “In terms of the sentence itself, it’s a blasphemy charge because Ahok had quoted the Quran in what was interpreted to be out of context by the more radical side of interpretation of Islam. The moderates said he had no...

Asian pastor praying

We as the Church need each other

Asia (MNN) — There’s a reason why when we share stories of persecution, we ask for the Body of Christ to get involved in the solution. It’s because a key ingredient to perseverance of Christians under attack is encouragement from other Christians. While on the road with Asian Access last week, Ruth Kramer spoke with a pastor from a closed, creative-access country in Asia. The pastor says Christians do face persecution in his country, but it’s not always easy to pinpoint. He says, “It depends on the location area. Nowadays, for most of the big cities, it seems the government, [has slightly] opened the door for churches to do activities. But for most of the churches in the highlands and remote areas, they are still facing persecution.” For example, he shares the story of a house church in a rural area. The congregation was growing too big to fit into the pastor’s house for Sunday sermons and worship. “The pastor offered his piece of land for the church, and the church donated money, offered money to build the chapel. Right after they finished building the chapel, the local authority came with policeman and they locked...

They didn't trust each other,  even within the Church

map/flag of CambodiaCambodia (MNN) — There’s a slice of land in Southeast Asia about the size of Oklahoma. It’s surrounded by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. While you’ve no doubt heard of Cambodia, you may not know much about the country. Meng Aun Hour of Asian Access says what most people do recognize is the phrase, “killing fields”. We shared a couple of years ago howGod is bringing healing to the nation after the 70s massacre of Cambodians by their four-year leader, Pol Pot. The Gospel is a shining light of hope after such a deep and painful scar that continues to characterize the country. Aun Hour gave us an update on how the Cambodian Church is doing... 

Tragedy brought them to a deeper level of ministry

Pray for NepalNepal (MNN) — Nepal just marked the second anniversary of devastating twin earthquakes that killed 9,000 people and made a million others homeless. The government has been criticized for the slow pace of rebuilding, and did not officially hold any commemorative events April 25th. However, survivors held memorial services in Kathmandu and other parts of the country. Although it has faded off front page news, the reality is that Nepal is still in tatters. Less than one-fifth of the destroyed homes have been rebuilt. Asian Access, a ministry that helps train, develop, and network church leaders, had already started connecting believers to help respond to the quake needs. It was a unique moment for these Christians. Perhaps what makes this more interesting is how the Japanese Church lived out... 

This ministry has big goals for the future

Asian Access Jubilee in JakartaMNN’s Ruth Kramer traveled to Indonesia last week with Asian Access as they celebrated 50 years of ministry with Jubilee in Jakarta. Kramer shares her reflections.

Indonesia (MNN) — It’s not every day that you can mark a jubilee in ministry by snowball growth, but that’s what is happening to Asian Access (A2). I’ve spent the last few days with them, not only celebrating what God’s doing through them, but also hearing about big dreams for the future. Between 1967 and 2001, A2 was in pioneering mode. They had a call from a Japanese pastor to come and train their church leadership to help them figure out a strategy to multiply churches. Laying the groundwork was painstaking, but well worth-it when, in 2002, believers in Mongolia asked A2 to come alongside their church leaders. From there, came requests from Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, and several creative-access Southeast Asian nations — with the newest cohorts being trained in the Philippines next week... 

What can a ministry accomplish when God is leading the way?

Asian Access' 50th anniversary celebration in JakartaAsia (MNN) — What does the phrase ‘Jubilee in Jakarta’ bring to mind? Certainly, a celebration…probably one in Indonesia. You’d be right on both counts. Asian Access (A2), a ministry dedicated to leadership development and church planting in Asia, is marking what God has done with the initial vision of empowering pastors in Japan 50 years ago. A2’s Noel Becchetti shares, “The immediate, exciting stuff going on for Asian Access is next week…we have two new countries beginning.” What started in Japan has grown into core leadership partnerships with a dozen other nations, including the newest in the Philippines. At the same time, Becchetti explains, an orientation session is launching in a creative-access South Asian nation, “which means by early summer, the new class will be fully involved in its course material.” The commitment from A2 is...

As recovery stagnates, Gospel growth booms

Damage left by the 2011 tsunami. (Photo cred: Tamaki Seto via Wikimedia Commons)Japan (MNN) — Broken remnants and barricades remain six years after Japan’s deadly ‘triple disaster’. “There are still tens of thousands of people in temporary housing…. That place (near the Fukushima nuclear facility) was so devastated that the local people cannot afford to go back into their homes and rebuild them,” says Joe Handley of Asian Access. Worse yet, the Japanese government is ending housing subsidies for some Fukushima residents. Financial aid will end this month for “those who fled the Fukushima nuclear disaster from areas other than the government-designated evacuation zones,” according to Japan Today. Yet. Handley found hope during a recent...

persecuted pastorsThe persecuted Church reflects on strength amidst trials

International (MNN) — Yesterday, we told you about some of the persecution the Church in Southeast Asia is up against, but what happens when those trials subside? Noel Becchetti of Asian Access might have an answer. For example, Becchetti says, “Nepal was going into… an era of relative peace and harmony after quite a bit of persecution, [and] the Church in Nepal has grown dramatically from a few hundred people 30 years ago to almost two million today.” When he asked local church leaders why their churches were experiencing such exponential growth, they informed him that “our church has grown because of persecution. It has made us strong and it has made us unified." However, just because...

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Mission Network News is a mission news service dedicated to keeping Christians informed on evangelical mission activity around the world. In doing so we hope to educate and motivate Christians to prayer, participation, and support of missionary work to help further the Great Commission.

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