Typically we focus on one project or country each month, but as we round out another year, we want to highlight two of the regions you have helped make a substantial impact in throughout 2016: The Middle East and China.
The Church in the Middle East is in the middle of what has been called the most extreme humanitarian crisis of our era. The Church in Iraq needs our help in an urgent way to reach their communities and seize the opportunity the Body of Christ has right now with the refugee crisis. The support we have provided the local church is reaching people affected by ISIS and the Syrian Civil War. Each one of the numbers below represents a person whose need was met by the Church:
- 3,000 Syrian refugees fed each month for nearly three years.
- 1.5 million meals have been provided
- 26,000 pairs of shoes distributed in the past two years
- 240 tons of aid delivered (winter clothes, food, toiletry items, etc.
Our consistency to provide for refugees’ needs every month opens the door for church teams to develop relationships with these families, and through relationships believers have the opportunity to share the truth about Jesus Christ. Your partnership is a critical component of the aid being distributed to refugees as well as the opportunity for these people to hear the rescuing power of the Gospel.
Across the border in Iran, we equip the local church by smuggling Bibles into the underground church. As Bibles are illegal in the country, it’s very difficult for new believers to get their own copies. And yet, reports show the Iranian church is growing around 5% a year. Bibles are extremely important for believers to strengthen their faith and are often used as an evangelistic tool to reach Muslims seeking Truth in the 99.4% Islamic country. We supply pastors with Bibles for new believers as they risk their lives to bring people to Christ each and every month.
The Church in China has a unique set of challenges and a continually growing number of believers – nearly 15,000 people are coming to Christ every day. It’s estimated that there are over 100 million believers in underground churches – most meeting in groups of 40 to 70 members all throughout the country. With all those new members comes the need for an estimated 300 new pastors each day! Despite the tight grip of the Communist government on unregistered house churches, they are thriving. With almost 5 million people coming to Christ every year, these underground churches desperately need trained leaders but have little access to Christian training material. Our two programs, the ABC discipleship and leadership training as well as our China Mission School (CMS) are tools we use to help meet this need.
- Discipleship and Leadership Training – In China you have helped enroll over 5,600 students in our two-year discipleship training program, and to date over 2,500 trained leaders have graduated and are now helping to build the underground church. 420 students have graduated in just the past 3 months!
- China Mission Training – You are helping to train 1,000 students in our CMS program. This missions training helps prepare the house church in China to mobilize missionaries to unreached people groups throughout China and into the Middle East. To date, about 500 students have graduated from the program.
- Leadership Conferences – This year we increased the number of our pastors’ conferences we provide to Chinese house church leaders from two to three – all in different cities. The pastors who attended our conferences this year collectively represented over 2 million people. The training and knowledge we are providing is being disseminated throughout the house church in China on a very large scale.
These are real challenges and needs the church in hostile or restricted environments face every day, yet they carry the compassion of Christ – a desire to share God’s love, disciple new believers, plant more churches and reach those in crisis.