Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sustain Hope: AG ministry seeks to improve lives of poor and needy

In a world where nearly half the population survives on less than $2 a day and 1 billion people lack access to clean water, causing suffering from easily preventable diseases, it's tempting to believe that God doesn't provide, He's not truly rich and generous, and healing for half the world remains an impossible dream.
But often people simply need to be awakened to solutions that may be close by, according to Carol Young, director of Sustain Hope. This Assemblies of God World Missions ministry is designed to improve lives through community-initiated, sustainable solutions that use local resources in areas of agriculture, alternative fuels, water and sanitation. Of utmost importance to Sustain Hope is the transformation of the individuals they serve through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Networking with AG missionaries, Sustain Hope listens to the needs of the national church and local communities, and, in return, ministers the love of Christ in practical ways that affect everyday lives, says Young. Simple methods, such as providing training in solar water disinfection or improving agricultural techniques, improve quality of life using materials that can be obtained locally.
Sustain Hope -- rocket stove
Sustain Hope worker, Andy Rogers, displays cooking techniques using a rocket stove in Nicaragua.
Launched in 2007 by JoAnn Butrin, director of Assemblies of God World Missions International Ministries, Sustain Hope focuses on the assets that individuals already possess. Together, solutions are formulated that will discourage dependency on outside resources.
Prior to joining Sustain Hope, Young served AGWM HealthCare Ministries in the video and information technology department. She connected with missionaries ministering in places where families often were unable to both feed their children and send them to school. Yet Young knew there must be a way to offer assistance that is both Christ-centered and holistic while not fostering dependency.
Sustain Hope is engaged in sharing such methods. Today, Young and five Sustain Hope missionaries travel worldwide at the invitation of AGWM field missionaries to help people address problems that often have simple solutions.
"We get excited about manure tea and compost," Young says, "because we see how much simple, doable methods such as these can change people's everyday lives."
For example, in areas where most people live on less than $2 a day, cooking fuel often costs more than food itself and can be hard and dangerous to obtain. It causes deforestation, which exacerbates water shortages and health problems.
Sustain Hope provides instruction about technologies such as fuel briquettes made from agricultural waste, fuel-efficient stoves, and solar cooking that can greatly reduce fuel use and expense. Some technologies, such as solar ovens, lend themselves to microenterprise by empowering people to generate income through building and selling these ovens.
Container or rooftop gardening techniques can be used in urban settings where there is little land. Sustain Hope teaches food cultivation methods that can even be employed in apartments.
The moringa tree, the world's most nutrient-dense plant, is found in almost every country where Sustain Hope has ministered - and throughout every malnutrition-plagued area of the globe. All parts of the high-protein moringa are nutritious. Moringa tea even soothes coughs.
"These trees are a gift from God to these people," team member Bob Bachman says. "We just need to educate."
"We use Scripture in our materials and presentations, and we share the salvation message," Young says. "Without Christ, one's heart and life can't be truly transformed. When lives and communities are transformed by Christ, an 'other-centeredness' often occurs, and people begin to care more about their neighbor."


County Officials Force Georgia Church Underground

Rockdale County is allegedly discriminating against a Georgia church, effectively forcing it underground.
Rockdale County refused the small church access to several properties for its worship services because the properties are less than three acres. The restriction does not apply to non-religious groups. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has filed a lawsuit.
“Government officials should not use zoning restrictions to close down religious services of small, start-up churches,” says ADF Senior legal counsel Erik Stanley. “Not only is it irresponsible to target small ministries dedicated to serving the community, it’s unconstitutional and violates federal law.”


Clinics Offer Sunday Abortion Discounts to Counter Churches’ Pro-Life Protests

Back in November, we told you that an Orlando-based clinic was offering discounts on abortions that were performed on Sundays. Months later, the Orlando Women’s Center is continuing this practice, with a new coupon that extends the invitation for $50 off a Sunday abortion through April 1, 2013 (unfortunately, although the deal ends on April Fool’s Day, it isn’t a joke).
Below, see the current ad that is active on the Orlando Women‘s Center’s web site:
Abortion Clinics Offer Sunday Discounts to Combat Church Protests
Recently, The Christian Post explored this issue, examining whether clinics like the Orlando Women’s Center are purposely choosing a day on which many Americans attend churches to offer the disturbing discounts. According to the outlet, this day has been chosen in an effort to respond to church-led protests against abortion clinics that are sometimes held on Sunday afternoons.
Abortion Clinics Offer Sunday Discounts to Combat Church Protests
Image Credit: Fund Abortion Now
According to Michael Martelli, executive director of the Maryland Coalition for Life, a group that opposes abortion, these Sunday discounts are commonplace. He also corroborates the notion that they are offered intentionally to combat Christian grievances with clinic operations and abortion in general.
“I don’t think there is any coincidence…abortion facilities are facing increasing presence from Christians praying during business hours, and are having to change up their business hours to try to avoid the attention,” he said.
Now, here’s an even more surprising tidbit. Martelli also said that the practice of collecting funds to help others secure abortions is an increasing phenomenon. Take, for instance, the web site Fund Abortion Now, which helps women across the nation pay for the procedure. Here’s a brief synopsis, in the group’s own words, of its work to help “women and girls” secure abortions:


Young Republican Alex Schriver VS MSNBC Toure

David Horowitz & Glenn Beck Discuss Political Party Funding

Widening sex scandal rocks Texas Air Force base

     SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- From a chapel pulpit on Lackland Air Force Base, where every American airman reports for basic training, Col. Glenn Palmer delivered his first order to nearly 600 recruits seated in the pews: If you're sexually harassed or assaulted, tell someone.
"My job is to give you a safe, effective training environment," Palmer said firmly.
What the colonel did not mention directly in his recent address was a widening sex scandal that has rocked the base, one of the nation's busiest military training centers. Allegations that male instructors had sex with, and in one case raped, female trainees have led to criminal charges against four men. Charges against others are possible.
The most serious accusations surround an Air Force staff sergeant scheduled to face a court-martial in July on charges that include rape and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault. The other three defendants were charged with lesser crimes ranging from sexual misconduct to adultery. All of the defendants were assigned to turn raw recruits into airmen in eight weeks of basic training.
A two-star general is now investigating alongside a separate criminal probe, which military prosecutors say could sweep up more airmen. Advocates for female service members and members of Congress have started taking notice.
"It's a pretty big scandal the Air Force is having to deal with at this point," said Greg Jacob, a former Marine infantry officer and policy director of the Service Women's Action Network. "It's pretty substantial in its scope."


S.F. gay rights advocate arrested over child porn

San Francisco police have arrested veteran gay rights advocate Larry Brinkin in connection with felony possession of child pornography.
Brinkin, 66, who worked for the San Francisco Human Rights Commission before his retirement in 2010, was taken into custody Friday night. He spent the night in jail before he was released on bail, according to a spokeswoman for the sheriff's department.
The district attorney's office will decide Tuesday whether to file charges. "We're still reviewing the case," district attorney's spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said Monday.
Police say that Brinkin had pornographic images, some that appear to show children as young as 1 and 2 or 3 years old being sodomized and performing oral sex on adult men, in e-mail attachments linked to his account, according to a search warrant served by San Francisco police.
Representatives of America Online contacted authorities after coming across e-mail attachments from one of its subscriber's accounts containing what they believed to be child pornography.


Poll: Obama slips in Ohio

President Obama's lead in Ohio has narrowed, according to a new survey.
Obama leads Mitt Romney 47 percent to 44 percent in the Buckeye State, according to the latest poll by the Democratic-leaning firm PPP.  But that's down from a seven point lead that he maintained in the last two PPP surveys of the state.
Obama is clinging to his lead based on his strength with three demographic groups: black voters, young voters and women. Obama leads among African-Americans 93 percent to 6 percent, and he beats Romney among young voters 54 percent to 36 percent. Women support Obama over Romney 52 percent to 41 percent.


Short on Funds: Democrats Cancel Speedway Event At Charlotte Convention

Democrats canceled a political convention kick-off event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and will move the activities to Charlotte’s main business district, the convention’s host committee announced.

“While we regret having to move CarolinaFest away from our great partners at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the City of Concord, we are thrilled with the opportunity that comes with hosting this event in Uptown Charlotte,” said Dan Murrey, the executive director of the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee.
The move comes as party planners are grappling with a fundraising deficit of roughly $27 million, according to two people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss internal party politics. With a party ban on direct contributions from corporations, the host committee has raised less than $10 million, well short of its $36.6 million goal, said one of the people.


Survey: 70% of teens hide online behavior from parents

(CNN) -- Here's a real shocker: Teens are better than their parents at using the Internet, and are likely to hide some of their online behaviors from them.
That news comes from a 2,017-person survey funded by the online security software maker McAfee, which is pushing a product that helps parents monitor their kids online.
Seventy percent of teens "hide their online behavior" from parents, according to the report, which was released Monday. That's up from 45% in 2010, the group says.
These hidden behaviors include some things you might expect -- such as accessing violent (43%) or pornographic (32%) content online -- but also a few surprises. Fifteen percent of teens have hacked into social networks; 9% have hacked into e-mail accounts; 12% have met face to face with a person he or she met on the Internet; and 16% of teens surveyed said they had used their phones to cheat on tests at school.
McAfee said parents are often unaware of these behaviors.

S. African party protests ‘Made in Israel’ warning

PRETORIA – A South African opposition party is organizing two marches on Thursday to protest against the government’s latest moves against Israel.
The African Christian Democratic Party’s call to demonstrate came after Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies’s proposal a few weeks ago to label imports from Israel originating in the West Bank as “Made in Israel.”

Pro-Palestinian NGO Open Shuhada Street and Palestinian groups in South Africa had lobbied for the proposal, alleging that certain products such as cosmetics, soft drinks and technology were being falsely labeled as having been produced in Israel, when they had actually originated in “occupied Palestine.”
Last week, ACDP president Rev. Kenneth Meshoe opposed Davies’s proposal, stating that the entire notion was flawed and based on allegations that cannot be proven.
He further stated that there is no such state as occupied Palestine: “I am disputing that the Palestinian territories are not legally and officially recognized in the world.”
Meshoe then accused the South African government of being misleading and unfair toward Israel, demanding that the Jewish state be treated “like any other country.”


SIN: Treating the Symptoms and Not the Sickness.

This past week I was really sick, I mean really sick. Fever, headache, chills, you name it. For days I took pain relievers and the turmoil in my body would ease for a while.. but inevitably, the gut wrenching symptoms returned. Although treating the symptoms of my sickness provided a temporary solution to what I was experiencing, it did not cure it. And that goes for all types of sicknesses. We can treat our symptoms all we want, day in and day out, but until our immune system (the real weapon) kills the virus/bacteria, we are waging a battle that won’t end.
How similar is this to our struggle with sin in our lives, as believers in Christ? Off the top of my head, the major external sins that I wage war against are pornography and smoking. (FYI I’m not trying to label smoking as a sin universally, but for me, it is). For months and months I have been doing everything that I can think of to cease these behaviors… but nothing seems to work. I’ll try not to be on my computer when I don’t need to be, or I’ll make myself not go buy cigarettes, or I’ll try to occupy myself with some other activity to distract my mind from the things I really want to do… the sins I really want to commit. I’ve been trying (and admittedly not as hard I could) to modify my behavior, but is that even the solution? If I impart enough restrictions into my life, to the degree that I’m not externally sinning…am I really any better off? Your first inclination may be to say, “Well yes, Matt, of course you’re better off. You’re not sinning.”… and to a degree, I’d agree. But is begrudging, joy-less, obedience really what the Lord wants from His children? Does living our lives in constant paranoia, fearfully attempting to dictate our surroundings at all times to avoid possible temptation, invoke in us any sort of praise to our Father? If you say yes, you’re lying. That kind of life is miserable. I don’t want that kind of life, and I don’t want anyone else to live that kind of life.
So should we neglect this whole battle with sin? Should we just stop trying? Should we not set filters on our computers? Should we just live in complete license and presume upon the grace of God, doing whatever we want to do, whenever we want to?
God Forbid.

Paul Washer has put this thought into words very clearly, and the Spirit has engrained it into my mind: “Your Christian life should not consist of doing all the righteous things you hate, while refraining from all the wicked things you love."
Do you see what Washer is getting at here? He’s attempting to plunge past the external behaviors, whether good or bad, and reach into the heart of a person. The heart, the broken, destitute and sin-ravaged heart of the person, is the root of the problem. This heart is the dark spring from which all our sinful thoughts, desires, and eventually behaviors arise. The external sins we see in our lives, the behaviors we hopefully detest, are not the root of the problem…they are merely symptoms of the unseen disease waging war inside of us. Indwelling sin, or our sin nature, is the universal disease that plagues every fiber of every human being, physically and spiritually. This nature causes us to turn from God, bow down in reverence to ourselves…desiring things that we ought naught and committing shameful acts, day in and day out. But when we are made new in Christ and given the gift of the Spirit, we are aware of this innate sickness and embark on a life long journey to battle the ever-present evil inside of us. But how are we to wage this battle? We’ve been told “Don’t lie, God hates liars!” and “Don’t have sex, or God’ll getcha!”, but those of us who have tried to just not do these things using our own will power know we fail every time we try.
So what’s the solution? I mean, this sounds pretty hopeless right? Right. The truth is, you are utterly hopeless to defeat the sin in your life… in and of yourself, as am I. There’s not any amount of self control or discipline that you can muster up from within yourself to crush this thing. The only thing, and I mean the only thing, that can change you is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit…. specifically, the love of God being poured into your heart to such a degree that your desires actually start to change. And by change, I do not mean completely disappear… my same-sex feelings have not totally disappeared. But what I’m saying is that the love of Christ that’s poured into our hearts by the Spirit swallows up all of our other carnal desires, drowning them out and putting them at bay. They may still be present, but the love of Christ is the overwhelming presence inside of our hearts…. the love of Christ controls us, not our sinful natures.


FBI saves 79 kids held as sex slaves in US

The FBI, working alongside state and local authorities across the U.S., rescued 79 minors being held as sex slaves, the agency announced Monday.
The minors – two of whom were boys, the rest girls – were taken from 57 different cities during “Operation Cross Country” raids on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The youngest kid was 13, while another told of being held as a sex slave since age 11, said Kevin Perkins, the head of the FBI’s criminal division.
Pimps were luring the kids through social media, targeting ones who came from “dysfunctional” families and offering them gifts, Perkins told Fox News.

It takes more than food to feed the poor

A few years ago, a good friend of mine noticed a homeless man begging on the side of the road. Now, any of us who have watched specials on television know that most of these guys are faking it–looking for a free hand out, right? A good Samaritan might give him a few bucks just to show him generosity.
My friend decided to do way more than that. He picked him up and took him out to eat. After a long conversation over a McDonald’s meal, he learned that his destitute state was a reality. The problem was he had no desire to change. The conversation ended somewhat like this, “Sir, thank you for the free meal. I needed it. Honestly, though, I just want money for liquor.” Well, how do you fix that? He is destitute and he doesn’t want to change. Sometimes I think it’s too easy for us to believe that benevolence alone will change someone.
I do understand that people need their basic needs met before they can wrestle through higher levels of thinking. We have all studied Abraham Maslow and his infamous hierarchy of needs, the most basic being food and water. Yet we must not forget the most important issue of the heart.
Until there is a transformation of the will, any economic adjustment will be short lived.


Disappearing Daughters: India's Female Feticide

Every 12 seconds, a baby girl is aborted in India. That's about 7,000 girls killed every day just because they are females.      
The United Nations now calls India the most dangerous place on earth for a girl.
So why are these parents taking such action? CBN News went searching for answers in a remote village of Rajasthan in northeast India.
Beware the 'Medicine Man'
In rural villages and big cities, millions of families are turning to men like Kilash Boria to help eliminate their girl children.
For more than two decades, Boria's father was known around Rajasthan as the medicine man. He created a secret brew that he'd give to pregnant women to help abort their babies.
"From the time I was a child I saw my father giving this drink to women in the village," Boria told CBN News.
"Do you have any idea how many women your father saw during his lifetime?" CBN News' George Thomas asked.
"At least 500 women," Boria replied.
Abortion is legal in India. Sex-selective abortion, however, is illegal but widely common. The impact is devastating, with census figures showing the child sex ratios getting worse. 
In 2001, there were 927 girls for every 1,000 boys. Now the girls in that ratio are down to 914. In some parts of the Indian state of Punjab, the ratio is as low as 300 girls.
"Indians are obsessed with having a boy," Boria explained. "They just don't want to have girls."
Boria's Deadly Brew
Like his father, Boria is also a farmer but with no training as a professional doctor. Nevertheless, Boria took over his father's gruesome line of work when he passed away three years ago.
He now sees on average between four to five women each month. He showed CBN News how he concocts the traditional abortifacient.
"I crush the bark of the mango tree and marva tree together into paste-like substance," he explained. "It has to sit for about two hours. I then mix it with other ingredients and black magic."
The instructions to the pregnant woman are very specific: He tells her that this entire glass has to be consumed. But before that happens, Boria explains that about 100 milligrams of a locally brewed wine should be mixed with the pasty concoction.
Then on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning, half of it needs to be drunk. The remainder is to be taken right before going to bed with a full stomach.
"Within two or three days the women has an abortion," Boria said.
And what is the evidence that Boria's concoction is actually working? After each abortion the patient would place two coconuts on his front porch as a way of thanking him for his efforts.
Kaveena, 26, was one of those women. Several years ago she underwent an abortion with Boria's help.
"I already had a son, but then I became pregnant again and discovered that I was having a girl," she told CBN News. "The family and village pressure was so much I had to do it."

Tenn. Pro-Abstinence Sex Education Law Sparks Debate

A pro-abstinence sex education law enacted recently in Tennessee has critics warning that it will fail to check the state's teen pregnancy rate, as supporters stand their ground on the need for barring explicit sex education.

The bill, labeled by critics as "no holding-hands bill," was signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last month. It prohibits educators from advocating "gateway sexual activity," and uses the criminal statute on sexual assault to specify acts such as groping or fondling.
A New York-based reproductive health research organization, the Guttmacher Institute, is arguing that comprehensive sex education is appropriate and necessary for young people.
"What we know ... from the research is that comprehensive sex education works," said Elizabeth Nash, the institute's state issues manager, according to The Associated Press. "It delays sexual activity, it reduces the number of partners teens have, and it increases contraceptive use. There is very little in the way of any rigorous research that shows that abstinence education has any of these long-term benefits."
Nash attributes declining pregnancy rates around the United States to a move the country's state lawmakers took about a decade ago to consider more comprehensive sex education programs that talked about abstinence as well as contraception.
Tennessee's pregnancy rate among girls 15 to 17 has also dropped from 48.2 pregnancies per 1,000 girls in 1998 to 29.6 in 2009, according to the state Commission on Children and Youth. However, the institute says, it remains one of the highest in the nation.


S.C. couple building Christian-based camp in Ky.

GRAYSON, Ky. (AP) — A South Carolina couple has begun working to turn a hundred-acre farm in eastern Kentucky into a Christian-based summer camp for children in Appalachia.
Stephen and Millissia Owens told The Independent (http://bit.ly/MX3zh9) that they envision children attending the camp and learning about farm life including gathering eggs and milking cows. They say lessons will be given in a spiritual context and include services at a nearby Baptist church.
The Goose Creek, S.C., residents are currently camping at the farm site in Carter County where Stephen Owens used to help his grandfather, Lovell Evans, harvest tobacco.
Stephen Owens said campers will stay at rustic sites and will learn how to be more self-reliant. Millissia Owens says the camp will be based on Christian principals, but won't be marketed just to churches.
"Kids need a place where they can just be ... and get away from electronics," said Millissia, who grew up in the nearby Rush community with 10 brothers and sisters and graduated from East Carter High School in 1987.
Stephen Owens said the activities will be fun, but will incorporate lessons.
"We plan to teach them how to plant seeds in the ground and how that is the same thing as it is in your life. What you put into that seed is what you're going to get out of it," he said.


Court Allows Man to Distribute Bibles at Gay Pride Festival

A Wisconsin man was allowed to pass out Bibles at a gay pride festival on Sunday after a federal appeals court granted him a last-minute preliminary injunction late last week.

Brian Johnson, a taxidermist from Hayward, Wis., was awarded the opportunity to distribute Bibles at the Twin Cities Pride Festival, which is held at the 42-acre Loring Park in Minneapolis, this past weekend. The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted him a temporary injunction on Thursday.
According to the Star Tribune, Johnson attended the 40th annual Pride Fest with his family and a suitcase full of Bibles. He spent several hours passing out the books while, at the advice of his attorneys, he was filmed by his adult son in order to document his interaction with others at the event.
"I do this once a year. I talk to people about the love of Jesus Christ," he told the Tribune.