Middle East Musalaha – “Forgiveness and reconciliation”

Forgiveness and Reconcilliation | Overseas CouncilThis is an example of how one OC partner school is influencing their community for Christ

“We have no other choice but to be one because ‘He is our peace, and He is our reconciliation’…Together we can bring real hope of the real peace for our nations.” These are the words of John*, a Palestinian Christian and pastor who has allowed the ministry of Musalaha to work in his heart for good and for change.

As conflict in the Holy Land persists, Musalaha seeks to be an encouragement and facilitator of reconciliation. This ministry, founded in 1990 by Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) Academic Dean Dr. Salim J. Munayer, works to produce forgiveness and relationship between Palestinian Arab Christians and Israeli Messianic Jews. How does it happen? On the basic foundation of their faith in Jesus Christ – following Biblical commandments and the life and teaching of Jesus to love their neighbors and even their enemies.

Musalaha’s ministry brings people together through youth and women’s activities, summer camps, conferences, theological seminars and desert encounters, where participants must communicate, build relationships and rely on each other through the journey’s challenges. A willingness to share stories and personal pain from the conflict leads to a deeper understanding of each other and a friendship that could have never existed before. Transformed, they “return to their communities committed to salting their context with the reconciling love of Jesus Christ.”1

“My relation with Jewish friends started with Musalaha, but it did not stop there,” John continued. “What these programs did was motivate me to be more active in making the effort to build relations together. It is true that in every step I took, I discovered that we are different, but also I believed that we can still enjoy our unity in our diversity.”

Colossians 3:13 – Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
*Name has been changed for security purposes.
1 David W. Shenk, “The Gospel of Reconciliation Within the Wrath of Nations,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 32.1 (2008): p. 5.

Vaccination against Abuse: Street ministry serves Brazilian children at risk

Vaccination against Abuse | Overseas CouncilMaria and Denise recently earned their Diplomas in Mission from Evangelical Missions Center (EMC), Brazil. Their practical ministry placement took them to Uruguay to work with Youth for Christ for a month and a half. Both ladies feel called to serve children at risk, and their main project sought to educate society, churches, families and children on how to prevent abuse.

During their placement, the ladies served several churches, taught children and were involved in a project called “Vaccination against Abuse.” The project was presented to leaders at the Senate and Legislative Palace in order to launch a parliamentary defense on child and teenage rights. Street programs were also used to spread awareness and attract attention to the project. The ladies’ ministry leader noted their joyful attitudes, flexibility, hard work and creativity. They developed good relationships with Uruguayans and were very sensitive to their needs.

Both are now working with the Rebusca Christian social ministry in Viçosa, Brazil.

“It is exciting to see the children’s lives positively affected”

Positively Affecting Children's Lives | Overseas CouncilIn response to Russian societal challenges such as substance abuse, street children and orphans, St. Petersburg Christian University (SPCU) students and graduates have been on the forefront of social ministry through university projects, conferences and training.

Social projects include hosting youth events and multi-day children’s camps, remodeling a rehabilitation center, street evangelism and handing out Bible studies to children. One group will travel to Yakutsk to organize an eight-day service/worship camp for teenagers.

Other students have compiled an outreach plan including a 10-day Christian camp, fellowship conference for new believers and church youth and a unity trip to Mount Pidan. In addition, some students will partner with Tajikistan Christian organizations to provide a youth summer camp, complete with bible lessons, activities and fellowship. Tajikistan believers comprise less than .01% of the population.

Nearby churches are taking notice and have asked the students/graduates to host similar activities and trips. Student Nikita Rezyukov says, “It is exciting to be able to use what I am learning and to see the children’s lives positively affected.”

Update: Russian youth ministry projects successfully completed, many were reached

Update: Russian youth ministry projects completed successfully, many were reached

In the June 2008 eNewsletter, OC shared how partner school St. Petersburg Christian University (SPCU) in Russia was on the forefront of social ministry, specifically their efforts with youth and children. Here is an update on their recent youth events and children’s camps.

One group of SPCU students planned to travel to Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia in eastern Russia, to organize an eight-day service/worship camp for teenagers. Because of unsafe conditions in the building where the team wanted to make their camp, it was cancelled. However, they held several evening youth gatherings in Mohsogolloh, a nearby city. Activities included a cinema-café, paper party, panel game, “black-and-white cinema” and a picnic. The team particularly prayed for a young group of men to attend the gatherings, and their “leader,” a local criminal named Vitaliy, “attended every evening meeting and was the most active among others.”

This group also arranged a church-based children’s camp in Mohsogolloh with 10-17 children attending daily. Each camp day had its own name, including “The day of full combat readiness,” “The main enemy” and “The winner.” Activities included worship, interesting assignments, games and Bible lessons. The team says they are thankful to God for this trip and pray that all the youth and children were touched by what they saw and heard.

Another team of SPCU students traveled to Tajikistan to partner with Christian organizations there and provide short-term youth camps, complete with bible lessons, activities and fellowship. Tajikistan believers comprise less than .01% of the population. More than 150 children and youth attended the camp and learned about Jesus. The team received many thanks for their assistance in providing the Christian camps and for training Sunday school teachers while there. SPCU has now reached a tentative agreement on the organization of distance learning programs for leaders of Tajikistan churches and Christian organizations.