This is Whyte House Report podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Mission Network News, According to Humanium.org, more than 100 Iranian children die from famine, street fights, and illness each month. These aren’t the only dangers threatening Iran’s next generation. In an unexpected move, Iranian leaders recently acknowledged the exploitation of children. However, Heart4Iran’s Jennifer Shamoon says the data is vastly underestimated. “Iranian officials reported about 4,600 children were living in poverty and collecting garbage on the streets of Tehran to sell,” Shamoon says. “When Iranian officials announce a number, you can double it because they’re not telling the truth. They’re trying to mask everything.” Officials claim up to 95-percent of at-risk children are Afghan refugees. “Ever since the Russian involvement, there has been [an influx] of Afghan refugees living below the line of poverty in Iran,” Heart4Iran’s Mike Ansari says. Last week, a state-run media outlet blamed poverty for increasing child marriages. Zahra Nejad Bahram, a women’s rights activist, told the outlet: “We are witnessing the rise of child marriage in society. Some officials openly encourage child marriage. According to published statistics, the number of child marriages in 2020 and spring 2021 has increased sharply in different parts of the country.” Widespread hopelessness and despair drive this trend and others. “Child trafficking [is] one of the biggest problems. Sometimes, [parents] cannot afford to feed all the children; they have [up to] seven kids,” Shamoon says. “They know [these children] don’t have any future, so they sell [a few] to feed [the rest].” Shamoon leads a new Heart4Iran initiative reaching families with God’s Word and the hope of Christ. By introducing parents to a biblical perspective, Heart4Iran hopes to protect children and reverse the current trends. “When there isn’t a strong family, these people (children) are not being protected, and they are being abused in different ways,” Shamoon says. Heart4Iran is launching a Virtual Sunday School, continuing to partner with Superbook to create shows in the Farsi language, and increasing outreach to at-risk children through its 24-7 counseling center.
According to Mission Network News, Uganda reopened its schools on January 10th for the first time since March of 2020. But not all students will return to classrooms. Brian Dennett with AMG International says, “So many students are probably not ever going to go back to their education. Many took jobs to help support their families during this time and have now tasted an income. And those families have come to rely on that.” Many schools won’t even reopen for financial reasons. Thousands of teachers have turned to other work to support themselves, and won’t come back to teaching. The situation looks even worse for girls who became pregnant while schools remained shut. The long closure may undo decades of educational progress in the East African nation. Under 50 percent of students participated in any remote learning programs. And the schools may not even stay open. AMG operates several different schools in Uganda, including a nursing school. Dennett says, “Through some provisions for medical study, we were able to keep that open.” The strategy looked different for primary through high schools, Dennett says. “We were able to send teachers out to communities and assist with their homeschooling.” Pray many would find hope in Jesus through AMG’s ministry.
According to Mission Network News, An estimated eight million widows comprise nearly 15-percent of Kenya’s population. This forgotten and overlooked group faces many challenges and social stigma; widows didn’t even show up on the census until 2019. Thanks to Kenya Hope, widows in rural Kenya are rewriting their future. “Some of our widows used to have day jobs in Kibera, which is the largest slum in Nairobi. Now, they don’t even do that anymore because the funds they are making [using] the skills we taught them are completely supporting their family and then some,” Kenya Hope co-founder Joy Mueller says. Many women in rural Kenya depend on their husband’s income. When their husband dies, it’s difficult for widows to make it alone. Widows with small children face even more challenges. Trade training gives widows an opportunity to meet daily needs and plan for the future. Widows typically have little to no spare funding to pay for job skills training. Sponsorship covers the operating cost of Kenya Hope’s two-year program. Once a widow is fully sponsored, “we [give] her food assistance, and then we start training her in some very basic skills,” Mueller says. “The skill that has been a ‘homerun’ is bread making. We have widows completely supporting their families by making bread and selling it.” Kenya Hope’s program varies slightly by location. In some places, Kenya Hope and its partners teach widows how to make soap. Plus, “in Kenya, all the school uniforms are handmade, so we’ve been teaching our widows how to sew. Now they are sewing all the uniforms for our sponsored children, which is just incredible,” Mueller says. Kenya Hope’s “Widow’s Might” program operates through the local church. “They (Kenyan believers) help us identify who the true widows are and the neediest widows. Our program is really holistic; we try to hit all the points of these women’s lives,” Mueller says.
According to Assist News Service, In 1620, the Mayflower carried dozens of Protestant Christians fleeing religious persecution in England to the American colonies. Today, American churches mobilize to help dozens of believers escape persecution in China. “Every week, [a] private Christian school based in Dallas [has] been teaching the children virtually, and they are collecting support financially. China Aid [is] leading the diplomatic effort to try to find a solution for the U.S. government to resettle them,” China Aid’s Bob Fu says. “We call them the modern-day Mayflower church.” A coalition of ministries, including China Aid and Voice of the Martyrs Canada, is working tirelessly to secure freedom for the Mayflower church. Want to help? Add your name to a petition seeking U.S. resettlement for this group of persecuted believers. “This church is regarded as a church plant by the PCA: Presbyterian Church in America. Pastor Pan was ordained by the Philadelphia-based Presbyterian Church in America,” Fu says. “We hope the Lord will grant them their freedom to move to the United States.”
According to Mission Network News, Egypt’s President calls on the global community to help the rebuilding efforts in the Gaza Strip. Speaking at a panel of the World Youth Forum, he said recovery from last year’s 11-day war between Hamas and Israel requires far more than the $500 million his country already gave. The underground Church is struggling. “Most of the people we work with in Gaza only have electricity for half an hour [to] an hour a day,” Tom Doyle of Uncharted Ministries says. “A friend of ours sent a picture of her hair falling out in clumps, and we know it’s from stress and the constant threat of war.” These believers won’t give up, though. They’re clinging to hope and strength that comes only from Christ, and it’s leading to Gospel opportunities. “The fruit of the Spirit is something that the world can see, and it’s magnetic; that’s attractive to people,” Doyle says. “[People say,] ‘Why would you even smile? You live in Gaza; why do you have hope?’ And they’re (believers) able to share the Gospel.”
According to Mission Network News, One of the world’s largest unreached people groups may be right under our noses – literally. There are approximately 2.2 billion children worldwide, and most of them live in developing nations. Sometimes, children are the gateway to reach entire families for Christ. Kids encounter Jesus at Vacation Bible School or a similar program, and their witness brings parents to the Lord. In other countries, like those ruled by a majority religion, parents may know the Lord, but they don’t know how to reach their kids. “[For example], Muslim-background believers in a lot of these areas don’t have the tools to disciple their kids or introduce Christ to their kids,” Greg Yoder of Keys for Kids Ministries says. “We want to make sure that Keys for Kids and Unlocked, our teen devotional, is available and ready for them in their language.” By joining the Alliance for the Unreached, Keys for Kids Ministries can supply believers worldwide with tools and resources for family outreach. Similarly, Christian ministries can team up with Keys for Kids to supplement existing programs.
According to Mission Network News, Every day, people flee conflict and disasters, becoming displaced inside their own countries. Some cross borders to become refugees. According to the United Nations, more than 82 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes. Increasing people movement creates new Gospel opportunities, and believers need tools for their outreach efforts. “This movement of people across country lines and out of harm’s way, so to speak, has increased the need for and the effectiveness of (biblical) literature,” Helen Williams of World Missionary Press says. “We just sent some material to a medical group that built a new hospital in the northern part of Mozambique, where there is the most unrest. They use the Scriptures with patients.” Through His written Word, the Lord cares for people who’ve endured significant trauma. Some believers use WMP material in their outreach to refugees. “We just delivered a container to our coordinator in Kenya, and most of that is going up to the very large refugee camp in northwest Kenya where refugees are coming from Somalia,” Williams says. “In Colombia, a lot of people are coming in from Venezuela. Those [refugees] are also going into Peru, and we have people asking for increasing amounts of literature so that they can minister to [refugees] as well.” “The literature is also effective in areas where believers are driven from their homes – in Myanmar, northern Nigeria, and CAR (Central African Republic). Pastors are gathering people in small groups and teaching them from the literature, and [then] leaving the literature [so people can continue studying God’s Word],” Williams says.
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless you.