A delightful Uganda and Kenya Trip

It is such a delight when God leads you to do something that you love to do. Spending 12 days with dear friends from the US visiting dear friends from Uganda was above and beyond a joy. For me it was wonderful to introduce my friends to Africa and to Robert and Sarah of Jinja, Uganda. My co-travelers were the donors of this beautiful playground, Betsy and Michael Riggan. The playground was installed while we were there at Fountain of Hope School. We and the children watched each day as this mysterious conglomeration of bright blue metal pipes and plastic cylinders turned into something they could play on. Robert told me he didn’t know what a “playground” meant when I first asked him if his school with 1300 kids could use one.

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The story includes much more than a playground, as we brought the teachers some great ministry training. Kids Around the World, the organization that refurbishes Chicago suburb playgrounds (that are being replaced by new ones), supplied this huge set for Fountain of Hope School, and also sent trainers (from Nairobi) who trained teachers in Bible story telling methods. In a world where the facts on this page pictured here are true, it makes good sense to teach the age-old art of telling a story well. That’s what we saw in a 6 hour session with 25 teachers. The were energized to do what they already love to do….see life-changing material be taught in their classrooms. It was a delight to see their enthusiasm.IMG_E8492.JPG

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Claudia Root, my dear friend of 30 some years joined our small team and as a teacher of  English to refugee and immigrant children in Glen Ellyn’s public schools for 20 some years, she gathered about 10 school teachers who teach English in this Ugandan grade school and middle school together to talk about teaching methods. They loved this time and will benefit from an American teacher sharing the craft of teaching English as a second language.

 

 

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Betsy and I were able to present a lesson from the It Takes Courage! Curriculum. My hubby Jim has traveled with Kerus Global Education and presented teachers with the It Takes Courage! Curriculum for 20 years both with Campus Crusade for Christ and Kerus Global and seen teachers and students relate well to this 16 week lesson plan about life skills, character development and AIDS prevention material. It was well-received by the 8th grade class where we presented a sample lesson on Forgiveness and by the faculty that grasped a vision for using this plan.

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Seeing the children’s lives in this school community was so encouraging. Robert and his wife Sarah had the vision to begin this school in this very Muslim populated area 14 years ago. It is an incredible testimony to God’s blessing the work of these two visionaries. They have hired great faculty and we know that there are higher paying jobs elsewhere so we pray that they will remain as they continue to feel God is using them so mightily here in Bukeeka, Uganda.

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The Islamic community where this school is located have persecuted them in the past as you may read in the story linked here, The school has seen hundreds of children from this community come to Christ and families that follow and come to the local church that Robert planted across the road from the school. It is a remarkable story.  They could use your financial help to put the sides of a new church plant on this pole church. We worshipped here on their first year anniversary and the church is already at 300 worshippers.

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It is so remarkable to be on-site and meet and see what God has done through Robert and his team who are training pastors, using evangelistic teams to plant 13 area churches, hiring fully devoted followers of Christ as teachers, and investing in the lives of children.

Partnering with faithful, gifted leaders in the majority world is one of the best thing for us to do with our mission dollars. If anyone wants to learn about how to do this well, there are resources available through Catalyst Services. Finding and developing a good partnership overseas is not easy, but this ministry will teach you what you need to know.

There are also kids you can sponsor at this school. About 100 of the 1300 kids would not be able to attend school without a sponsorship coming from the outside. I took two young girls, Florence and Jedidah for $30 a month each. If you’d like to consider this, visit this website.  

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We enjoyed a 3-day Kenyan Safari in Masai Mara on our way out. God’s creation is glorious. We saw a family of 9 elephants really close up and personal on the first day.

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I’m going to Uganda

On March 7th I am heading to Jinja, Uganda to help build a playground. The American- made playground and children’s Bible curriculum will be part of our gift to Robert Sityo’s school of 1300 students. Going to visit an East African national and the ministry God has blessed is a great privilege. We will watch a huge recycled metal playground (the container safely arrived from its 3 month Atlantic crossing last week) be installed on the grounds of a school that our friends, the Sityos founded in 2004. Check out Kids Around the World for the details. I believe that where these kids are standing posing for this picture, will be a playground by March 15.
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While travel to Africa is never an easy undertaking… flying in multiple planes, connecting to drivers that you hire online to take you to the places you need to go, finding hotels near the airport, getting 3-4 immunizations including Yellow Fever, (that somehow the USA is “out of”…how does that happen? Just got my European-made Yellow Fever shot last week). You can’t go to Uganda without a Yellow Fever Immunization since there are lots of kinds of mosquitoes to fend off in the Lake Victoria region where I will be. Yep, I’m taking anti-Malaria meds too.

I won’t go on because it will all be worth it. Since I’ve done similar trips, I know…beyond any doubt.

I have shared a few stories about Robert on this blog.  One story is connected to the school that God protected as the new high school dorm building was being built from a witchdoctor’s curse. God has been working here in awesome ways for over 10 years. Our small team of four will be going to the village where this impressive school, Fountain of Hope School, is flourishing and students are getting a quality education.

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We will meet Robert and Sarah’s 21 children and the two year old triplets, Sandra, Nathan and Chelsea. We will meet the many children who are sponsored by US friends. We will meet the hundreds of Muslim students who have found new life in Christ. We will visit a couple of new churches that Robert and his teams have planted and reached out to the Muslim families who send their kids to this school. (This Valentine’s Day week I told my two grandsons this incredible story and their mom tells me they can’t stop talking about it.)

What a sight it will be to have over a thousand kids watching the building of a playground just for them. We hope they feel God’s smile upon them in this small village of Bukeeka, Uganda. I’ll be sure to post some pictures of the Dedication Day event.

I am feeling so humbled to know a man who is spending his life reaching the unreached in his home area…many are his Muslim neighbors. He has planted 13 churches and trained dozens of co-workers in the basics in how to teach the Word of God and reach into the  community and serve their needs. He was a Billy Graham Scholar at Wheaton Graduate School in 2015. He has been the catalyst for scores of Muslims becoming Christ-followers. (Wheaton Bible Church has recently recognized this ministry with a grant to help build a new church building.)

The individuals going with me are the generous donors of the playground. They have shown their commitment to children around the world and you might be interested in getting involved as well. If you are interested in helping with the local shipping cost for this playground, we would still appreciate any gift to KATW.net (write Bukeeka, Uganda in the optional message box).

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For me, personally, it is always a joy to be back in East Africa, near where our family lived in 1990-91 in Kenya. I am still very attached to this warm and wonderful place on our beautiful planet. I won’t be able to visit Hope for Life Kenya this time, but we will go on a side trip to Masai Mara Game Park at the end of our time and see some of God’s lovely creatures. I’ll tell you lots more when I get back.

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February – a time to learn about race relations

Every year at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL the focus of Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday is about race issues in America… and in our hearts. Bill Hybels tells a familiar story. It is about himself growing up in a white community and not learning or understanding much about race relations in America or how Christians were doing with the challenges of bridge-building.

This past Sunday he did something different. After his similar introduction he told a story. It was the life story of Martin Luther King, Jr.  He had invited the hundreds of middle school and high school kids from the church to come to “big church” this week to learn and understand more.  Check out this service or sermon at Willow Creek by clicking here. If you have 25 minutes, share this with your children…at least those over 10 year of age (from the grandmother). Divided by Faith
It seems we can assume that we as Christians have a biblical perspective on race. Looking at our country these past few years, it is only too obvious that we may not as we are still in the deep waters of racial conflict and misunderstanding each other across racial divides. Bill Hybels calls his second conversion to understanding the depth of our responsibility in race relations came 17 years ago when a black friend gave him a book to read. He said it changed everything…it is Divided by Faith by Michael O. Emerson. 

We believers in Jesus Christ need to be challenged to take this seriously. Let’s make 2018 a year that we grow in this area.

 

 

 

 

A Child is Born

Nativity Scenes

My grandchildren will once again act out the Nativity this year. We won’t have a 6-day old actor in the manger this year like we did 2 years ago…Jesus will be played by a doll, and I’m not sure if Buzz Lightyear will show up this year, but it will be meaningful.

I’m sharing a devotional from today of one of my favorite Daily Devotionals from Ravi Zacharias ministry…

“A general position on December birthdays (particularly for those of us who hold them) seems to be that its proprietors are easily neglected. We are over-shadowed by Christmas decorations in November and over-looked in December by relatives busy with Christmas errands and office parties. And yet, I suspect that others, like me, have always secretly loved it. In the season of our births, the world was awake, decking the halls, and a great number of them were looking to the birth of another infant. The spirit of Christmas seems a part of our own, the birth of Christ reminding us each year that we, too, were born, that we were fragile, that we were held. For those born in December (and for any who remember their own beginnings in the scenes of Advent), the season offers a time of contemplating infantile beginnings, a lesson in what it means to be human like no other. Stories and celebrations of one’s birth are juxtaposed with a nativity story told long before we were born and one that will continue to be told long after us.

In fact, the story of Christianity is a story filled with nativity scenes. In these stories, we find a God present before we have accomplished anything and longing to gather us long before we know it is happening. Thus David can pray, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” And God can say to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” And those who witnessed the miracle of Elizabeth and Zechariah can rightly exclaim God’s hand upon the child before that child could say his own name: “The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, ‘What then is this child going to be?’ For the Lord’s hand was with him.”(1)

Salvador Dali, Iesu nativitas (Matthew 1:20), 1964.

In a world where significance and identity are earned by what we do, by what we have accomplished, by what we own, by what we earn, and Christmas is about the lines we fought, the lists we finished, the gifts we were able to secure, the kingdom of God arrives scandalously, jarringly—even offensively—into our captive and often content lives. In this kingdom, a person’s value begins before she has said or done the right things, before he has accumulated the right lifestyle, or even made the right lists. In this kingdom, God not only uses children in the story of salvation, not only calls us to embrace the kingdom as little children, but so the very God of creation steps into the world as a child.

Children are not usually the main characters in the stories we tell, yet the story of Christmas begins and ends with a child most don’t quite know what to do with. Here, a vulnerable baby in a structure filled with animals breaks in as the harbinger of good news, the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets, the anointed leader who comes to set the captives free—wrapped in rags and resting in a manger. Coming as a child, God radically draws near, while at the same time radically overthrowing our conceptions of status, worth, power, and authority. Jesus is crowned king long before he can sit in a throne. He begins overturning idols and upsetting social order long before he can even speak.

If truth be told, perhaps I feel a certain delight in celebrating births and birthdays at Christmastime because it is the season in which it is most appropriate—and most hopeful—to remember our own fragility, our dependency, the mystery of the cycles of death and life, and the great reversal of the kingdom of God: For God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.(2) Advent, like childhood, reminds us that we are in need of someone to hold us. It also reminds us that, like the baby in a Bethlehem stable, we too are somewhat out of place, homeless and longing to be welcomed home. The image of a tearful baby in a manger is a picture of God in his most shocking, unbefitting state—the Most High becoming the lowest, the face of God wrapped tightly in a young girl’s arms.

How true that to be human is to be implicitly religious, for even within our most deeply felt needs for love and refuge, we are reminded that there is one who comes so very far to meet us. Inherent in our most vulnerable days, whoever we are, is the hope that God, too, took on the despairing quality of fragility in order to offer the hope of wholeness. In our most weakened states of despair and weakness, Christ breaks in and shows the paradoxical power of God in an unlikely nativity scene. Glory to God in the lowest, indeed.”

 Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 (1) cf. Psalm 139:13-14, Jeremiah 1:5, Luke 1:65-66.
(2) 1 Corinthians 1:27.

Papua New Guinea needs our attention

In late October 2017, Thrive Ministries will be hosting a retreat in Papua New Guinea….an island across many oceans and halfway around the globe between Indonesia and Australia…remember the National Geographic stories about this island in the south Pacific where people groups are still without a written language?…and usually without any influence from the rest of the world?

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Well, the missionary effort has been strong in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Wycliffe Bible Translators and New Tribes Mission (now Ethnos360) are working there. There are many who have come to Christ, but it is often difficult for new believers to pull away from a pagan social structure and culture. The efforts in planting new churches through Bible translation and literacy work are truly amazing. Click here to watch an incredible video about a celebration.

I want to tell you about a great opportunity the next two weeks through Thrive Ministries. Here is a sample of a prayer guide for the PNG Retreat. It will tell you about how the heart of a missionary thinks and prays and you will begin to understand and empathize in a new way about her heart and her world.

You will love that you can subscribe and be a part of a network of women who pray one month before each retreat….seeing special insights to pray about and even first names of missionaries….Subscribe for 4 months of daily direction for missionary women who will be attending a retreat….and make a difference in their lives as well as four times a year to pray for a Thrive Retreat for Global women happening somewhere around the world.

Here is an example:

Pray for Papua New Guinea:

Aircraft and pilots of missionary organizations provide a lifeline for churches and missions. Many areas of PNG can only be reached by air. Unfortunately, thick forests, high mountains, dense clouds, and dangerous weather make flight conditions among the worst in the world. When there aren’t enough flight staff, missions must reduce the number of flights. Pray for the flying staff of Mission Aviation Fellowship (36 foreign and 120 national workers with 14 planes), SIL/JAARS (6 planes and 2 helicopters), New Tribes Mission (3 planes and 1 helicopter), and all who service the aircraft and travel in them.

Information courtesy of Operation World.

The miraculous power of God helps build a school against the witch doctor’s wishes.

In 2010 they got the money to build a boarding dormitory which was their first permanent building on the high school site. As the contractors were laying the foundation, the senior and well-respected witch doctor in the community came and spoke to the contractor demanding to be given a goat before he could allow the construction work to continue.

This is how an incredible story begins about a school in Uganda. It will leave you in awe. It comes from my dear friend, Robert Sityo, whom I met in 2014 while visiting African students at Wheaton Graduate School. Robert graduated in 2016 as a Billy Graham Scholar. I have told you about him before. He is since back home with his 21 children (18 adopted and his own triplets) and deep into his leadership roles in this school and many church plants. He was in the states this summer and told this story.

Robert wrote this story out for me this second week of September 2017. I had forgotten some of the details. Isn’t it an amazing account of the power of God! By the way, Robert and his wife, Sarah tried to plant a church in this town for years without success. Then Sarah had a dream one night of starting a school instead.  God would bless the school as he would eventually build a church. There is now a thriving church in Bukeeka. After you read the story, you may want to read more.

Laying the foundation of the Fountain of Hope school

 
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Robert continues the story, “the witch doctor threatened that if a goat is not given to him before the end of the day, the first person to go to the construction site after he left would die the next day. The contractor called me in fear and told me of how he has stopped the work until I give a goat to the witch doctor. When the witch doctor left the construction site, he went to the whole village to tell them of how I was going to die the next day if I don’t give him the goat.
 
When I came to the site, I was told the whole story and every one in the village was asking me to just give in and meet the demands of the witch doctor. Everyone knew that this was not a joke and I could lose my life if I didn’t meet this witch doctor’s demand.
 
But after hearing the whole story, I went to the construction site and prayed over it. I told everyone that I am not going to meet the witch doctor’s demand and encouraged the contractor that no one will die. Godfrey, my associate pastor and I spent that night at church praying. Early the next morning as I was leaving church to go home, I heard people moaning in the village, only to realize that the witch doctor was dead. He woke up at 5am and went to the toilet behind his house and died in the toilet.
 
The whole village was filled with fear because they knew why the witch doctor was dead. Being a Muslim guy, his funeral was supposed to be done on the same day. During the funeral,  a group of Muslim leaders called me aside and began to confess how they had persecuted me for the last 6 years. They apologized to me and told me of how they will not persecute me any more. They also asked me to not let anyone else die. They confessed that they now know that my God is stronger than the witch doctor’s.
 
The next Sunday, the first wife of the dead witch doctor and her four kids came to our church and gave their lives to Christ and are now church members since then. The kids go to Fountain of Hope schools.”
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His school, Fountain of Hope, has grown from a few students in an elementary school begun by he and his wife in 2004 in a predominantly Muslim area of southern Uganda to an enrollment of 1300 students (K-12 in 2017), where about 90% of the students have become Christians since enrolling in school.  God is blessing this school and the church in this town. Watch a video in the middle of this Home page of Robert for a bigger picture of his ministry.  

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Fountain of Hope School K-12, 2017

I’d like to give you a way to give this school a boost. They need a playground. While Robert was here, we visited a children’s ministry called Kids Around the World in Rockford, IL (my hometown). They take suburban playgrounds that are being taken down and replaced in our suburbs and rehab them and then send them overseas.  It is a great ministry. Short term mission teams may help or accompany.

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Robert and KATW Director, Jim Rosene

Do you know there are schools around the world with hundreds of kids without any playgrounds? In our country you can find a beautiful playground made of metal every mile or so in our U.S. suburban parks and school yards. They are everywhere and so plentiful that they are often empty of the children they were designed for. Kids Around the World (KATW), has received nearly $14,000 from friends of Fountain of Hope since August. We hope you and your family will consider giving the remaining $10,000 so the kids at this school can have their first playground built on the school grounds in early 2018. Make one of these playgrounds a reality for the community of Bukeeka, Uganda. Donate by Phone or Mail at the bottom of page at Kids Around the World, designate Bukeeka, Uganda.

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This is the warehouse where Kids Around the World stores the playgrounds waiting for their new homes.

My husband, Jim and I have been involved with school aged kids in Africa for over 40 years. We have helped find sponsors for  Hope for Life-Kenya kids to be able to finish high school and Jim has taught an AIDS prevention curriculum to school teachers all over the world. You know this is our heart if you read this blog very often. A caveat…we are very serious about which organizations we support and become involved with. Your trust in our discernment may be a way for you to enter into learning about and supporting ministries in Africa.

These darling triplets are the children of Robert and Sarah Sityo…they will enjoy this playground someday….let’s make it this coming spring.

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Our role in helping to stop sex trafficking and slavery today

Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission gave an incredible closing challenge this weekend (5/6,7) at the last week of Willow Creek’s 3 week missions conference, Celebration of Hope.

What really is the status of slavery in the world? You will want to hear this incredible talk.

https://willowcreek.tv/archive/celebration-of-hope/

Gary Haugen

Bio of speaker from Willow Creek’s Celebration of Hope:

Gary Haugen, Founder of International Justice Mission

Before founding International Justice Mission (IJM) in 1997, Gary was a human rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, where he focused on crimes of police misconduct. In 1994, he served as the Director of the United Nations’ investigation in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. In this role, he led an international team of lawyers, criminal prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and forensics experts to gather evidence that would eventually be used to bring the perpetrators of the genocide to justice. Gary received a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard University, and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.

Gary has been recognized by the U.S. State Department as a Trafficking in Persons “Hero” – the highest honor given by the U.S. government for anti-slavery leadership. His work to protect the poor from violence has been featured by Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, the New Yorker, The Times of India, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, the Guardian and National Public Radio, among many other outlets.  He is the author of several books, including Good News About Injustice (Intervarsity Press) and, most recently, The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence (Oxford University Press). Gary was invited to share the themes of The Locust Effect at the annual TED Conference in a talk entitled: The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now.

Christianity Today’s article on Refugee Issue

Trump’s Revised Refugee Ban Won’t Prioritize Persecuted Christians

White House softens executive order; Andy Stanley joins evangelical leaders urging compassion.
 
by Jeremy Weber

Christians fleeing the Middle East will not take first priority under an updated version of President Donald Trump’s executive order on travel and refugees, which he signed Monday morning after weeks of debate and holdups in federal court.

The new order does away with explicit language about prioritizing religious minorities, as well as loosens Trump’s initial limits on who’s allowed to enter the United States.

Current visa holders, refugees already granted asylum, and travelers from Iraq no longer face restrictions, and the indefinite ban on refugees from Syria was reduced to 120 days—same as the overall refugee population. The executive order goes into place next Thursday.

While surveys have found that most self-identified white evangelicals approve of Trump’s temporary moratorium on refugees, most evangelical leaders oppose it.

“The issuance of a new executive order on refugees and immigrants acknowledges that there were significant problems with the first executive order that caught up green card holders and others as they tried to enter the United States,” said Tim Breene, CEO of World Relief, the evangelical refugee resettlement agency forced to close five offices and lay off 140 employees in the wake of Trump’s decision to halve America’s intake of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000.

“However, this new executive order does not solve the root problems with the initial order—the cutting of refugee admissions by 55 percent and the inability for some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees to come to the United States. It is more of the same.”

Nearly half of leaders (46%) associated with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) selected “immigration/refugees” as the top public policy issue that evangelicals need to address in 2017, according to the NAE’s recent monthly Evangelical Leaders Survey. (No. 1 was “religious freedom, selected by 63%.)

Self-identified white evangelicals, who lean Republican, showed the strongest support among faith groups for the travel ban, with a 76 percent approval rate in a Pew Research Center survey released last week. White evangelicals were also the only religious group whose endorsement of a temporary ban on Muslims entered the US grew over the past nine months, according to a recent PRRI survey.

“The US has a right to control who enters our country and to keep out those who seek to do us harm,” tweeted Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, which regularly advocates for persecuted Christians.

During an hour-long radio response Monday afternoon, Sekulow described Trump’s revised order as a more legally sound means of securing the aims of the President’s original directive. “As far as admitting minority religious refugees that are not protected, you can do that under the law and under this exemption,” he said. “It has a case-by-case review, which is exactly what we said is the way this goes forward.”

While white evangelicals overall are among the biggest backers of Trump’s efforts to restrict and better screen refugees, prominent evangelical leaders and institutions have consistently championed compassion toward refugees. Leaders at World Relief, one of nine agencies partnering with the government to resettle refugees, insist “compassion and security do not have to be mutually exclusive” and employ a biblical basis for their advocacy.

Recently, Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley sided with them. He preached on the church’s unique role in immigration and refugee policy last month and launched NotSoUnited.org to share his message that the church can “bridge the divide when compassion and national security collide.” (Here’s one attempt at a summary.)

“At the heartbeat of [Jesus’] ethic is that every single person was made in the image of God and demands and deserves respect—not because government requires it, but because God made it that way,” he said. “To ignore this is to undermine the liberty that makes this a nation people flee to rather than from.”

Trump’s new order considers “fear of persecution or torture” without explicitly calling out religious factors. The earlier one contained a provision to prioritize persecuted religious minorities once the refugee program resumed, and the president spoke in a TV interview about helping Christians in particular.

Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, raised concerns that religious minorities in the Middle East need refuge more than ever.

“There’s a dire need for President Trump to issue a separate executive order—one specifically aimed to help ISIS genocide survivors in Iraq and Syria,” she wrote. “For three years, the Christians, Yizidis and others of the smallest religious minorities have been targeted by ISIS with beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture and sexual enslavement …. The Christian community is now so shattered and vulnerable, without President Trump’s prompt leadership, the entire Iraqi Christian presence could soon be wiped out.”

Meanwhile, Arab Christian leaders expressed concerns to CT about any policy that explicitly prioritized one faith over another or required a religious test.

During the first month of Trump’s presidency, about 6,000 refugees came to the US, with about the same proportion of Christians (43 percent) as Muslims (46 percent), Pew reported using State Department data.

Iraq is among the top countries of origin for refugees coming to America. Citing Iraq’s cooperation with the US, the White House said Iraq will no longer be singled out with other Muslim-majority nations as a country of concern. The Preemptive Love Coalition, a Christian aid group based in Mosul, continues to feed and care for those who cannot escape.

“How do we take care of our Christian sisters and brothers in Syria and Iraq? Have we stopped to ask them what that would look like?” wrote executive director Jeremy Courtney following Trump’s first order. “I don’t mean just being a safe haven to run to when their churches and homes are destroyed by violence, but whether we as a nation are pursuing the policies and diplomacy that give them the greatest chance of surviving and flourishing where they are—so they don’t have to flee their homeland.”

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A Prayer for our Country

John Piper’s Prayer

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Father in heaven, we ask now that your name would be hallowed in this moment, in this room, and in this ministry; that your name would be hallowed in Washington, and hallowed by Donald Trump and his family, his cabinet, the congress; that your kingdom would come, that your will would be done there.

To that end Lord, we ask that you would bring Donald Trump out of darkness and into light. Give him a spirit of brokenness and humility. “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). I pray that you would break his heart, give him humility, show him what it feels like to be penitent and to admit he’s done wrong — to confess he was wrong, ask forgiveness from you, and ask for forgiveness from the people that he’s wounded or people that he’s set a bad example for. He needs to be given the gift of faith and humility and repentance, and I pray that you would give it to him.

We’re not eager to have him as an adversary. We would like him as a brother. That will not be an easy transition for him. He’s a very wealthy man, and it hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew19:23–24). But Lord, you are able. The disciples threw up their hands in dismay saying, “Who then can be saved?” You didn’t say, “Well, that’s a stupid question.” You said, “With man this is impossible.” Then, you entered the glorious news, “But with God all things are possible” — including our conversion and Donald Trump’s conversion (Matthew 19:25–26). That’s our big, overarching prayer: for the advance of your kingdom and salvation there and throughout this land.

Until that day Lord, in your wonderful providence, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1). So, guard him from folly. Guard him from stupid decisions that would damage people, damage America, damage the church. Guard him. Superintend him and the congress in such a way that, beyond their explanation, things turn in a direction that makes for the kind of good that, even though it may not have faith in it, would have the form of faith in justice and love.

We’re asking for that kind of miracle, Lord: that you would surprise even him at what is able to be brought about. Protect him from the deceptions of the Evil One at the level of this providential governance of your way in the world, in America now. So God, I ask that the church would not rely on government and would not rely on a Trump presidency. I pray for evangelical leaders not to celebrate Donald Trump’s presidency with no apparent qualification, no tears, no brokenness, no sadness that he set such an awful example for this land.

Open the eyes, I pray, of evangelical leaders who seem so triumphalist in this moment as to think their way has been brought about and now good things are coming because we can lean on the arm of the flesh the way so many seem to give the indication. Grant that there would be a rising tide leaning upon the Holy Spirit, leaning upon the word of God; that there would be a countercultural dependence upon prayer, rather than the dependence of a power in high places.

Grant that there would be a burden for spiritual awakening, a burden for sharing the gospel, a burden for building healthy, strong, biblical churches in the land, a burden for taking the gospel to the nations of the world. Lord, don’t let us exhaust our energies fretting about the little molehill of this presidency when we have a Himalayan Mountain range of blessings in Christ Jesus. Grant that we would operate out of the fullness of Christ in doing many good deeds in this land. Grant that the church would be purified, and all the corruption and all the worldliness would be removed so that the world would stand up and say, “That’s a strange people. That’s a different people. That’s a godly, humble, servant-like, sacrificial, loving people,” rather than just, “That’s just Republican. That’s just what the world is.”

So God, work a great work of renewal in your church, I pray. May we live for the sake of the salvation of the world, O God. May this land not be our land, but heaven be our land, and the gathering of your people from all the peoples in every tribe of the world be our passion and our burden. Put America down in our priority list, and put the kingdom of God up, and the name of God up, and the church of God up, and the reaching of the nations up. Grant, I pray, that here at Desiring God, we would have a significant part to play in that. O, give us wisdom.

Give wisdom to the content team here, and great skill and wisdom to the technological team here so that together we might make the greatest possible impact to spread a passion for your supremacy, not American supremacy or Trump supremacy or Republican or Democratic supremacy. May it always feel like a heavenly orientation rather than an earthly orientation.

Make us willing, O God, to submit ourselves to the lordship of Jesus, not the lordship to any man who leads. We ask for your help. We humble ourselves under your mighty hand. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis,

Ever want to just leave?

This is the Monday after Inauguration Day in the United States and this is the Monday after millions of women marched in cities in every continent making a statement about women needing to be protected, respected, and appreciated for who they are. Those two events were enough to give me one of those after-the-stress headaches and frankly, one that could last a long time. I just wanted to get on a jet plane and go somewhere, away…maybe visit some family in Sweden, or friends in another country… that might help me get my mind off of our country and the issues.

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So today I went to an unusual source to find solace. I clicked into the Thrive Ministry Magazine called Connection. It is a magazine for global women written by global women. I read an article that ministered to my soul on this Monday. I hope you like it too. It was written by a woman who had to leave her country and come to America. She didn’t want to be here. But God had something for her to do.

The author, Jami Staples,  reminded me that we all have work to do, wherever we are. God has placed us here to follow Him and do what He asks of us. I felt His voice through her story.

By the way, I love being a part of the ministry that serves global women with this on-line magazine.  I am presently chairing the Thrive Ministry Board of Directors for this vibrant, important ministry to thousands of women global workers who serve Christ around the globe. This Connection Magazine is read by hundreds of women, some isolated and some in huge cities, but few are surrounded by other like-minded women and a thoroughly culturally comfortable church family. They all need each other. This magazine serves them.

The article I just read made me hungry to serve these global women workers, many of whom I know and love. I sometimes yearn to be with them. I only spent a year overseas, but I “get” many things about their lives. I love and respect them for what they do for Jesus. You can serve them too through volunteering at an international retreat. Read more. 

Today I pray that those who feel isolated and disconnected in their countries of service, (like I feel today), will know that they are a part of another community of great power and strength and love… and a part of something with a future that is sure…the body of Christ, His church, and eternity in heaven. We are so blessed to know this from the top of our heads to the tip of our toes. God has a plan and we will be a part of it. Let’s just play our part, like Jami chose to do.