On 15 March 2017, Compassion formally ended all program operations in India. The decision affects more than 147,000 children and 589 local partners in India. Compassion Australia CEO Dr Tim Hanna said it was a hard day for the organisation and more than 6000 Australian sponsors who support children in India. “Our hearts break with yours as we think about what this means for them, and for you, our sponsors and supporters in India. However, we trust God and His plan in the midst of all this, even though we don’t fully understand it now. We have prayed and believed that the situation in India would resolve. We have explored every possible opportunity to bring about a solution for the sake of these children, but without the result we all desperately wanted.”
Compassion began working in India in 1968. Over the years, over 282,000 children, babies, mothers and young adults have completed the program. However, in mid-2016, the Indian government began preventing Compassion funds from reaching its local church partners. Compassion was not the only ministry impacted. More than 20,000 non-profit organisations had their charitable registrations revoked, and 300 currently face similar restrictions. We believe this is due to the government’s increasing scrutiny against NGOs, the desire to reduce dependence on foreign aid, and the threat of Christian influence in a predominantly Hindu nation. As an unapologetically Christian ministry, Compassion seeks to serve children living in poverty as a response to our faith and Jesus’ call to care for the poor.
Because we care so deeply about the children in our program, we have explored every possible opportunity to resolve the situation. However, the Indian government has not lifted these restrictions, and our field office funds are nearly depleted. After much prayer and nearly a year of effort to remedy the situation, Compassion has begun the process of closing our program. We have also begun notifying our sponsors that our India program operations has ended. Compassion is giving sponsors an opportunity to write one last letter to their sponsored child. While there is no guarantee these letters will reach all sponsored children, local church partners in India have committed to doing what they can do distribute them.
Despite the end of Compassion’s programs in India, we know that God’s work has not ended. We serve a faithful, almighty God who will continue to work in the lives of these precious children. The local church remains committed to their communities. And the investment made by each sponsor in their sponsored child’s life will not soon be forgotten. “This decision will not deter us from continuing our ministry to vulnerable children in the 25 other nations where we work,” said Dr Hanna. “And today I am asking our supporters and church partners to continue to stand with us to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” We ask you to continue lifting up the many precious children, families, staff, pastors and sponsors who are affected by this difficult transition.
SUPREME COURT JUDGE TELLS AMERICANS TO STAND UP FOR THEIR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
The United States’ commitment to religious liberty is being tested and hostility toward traditional moral beliefs is on the rise, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told a group of Catholic lawyers recently. Justice Alito repeated the words he had written in his own dissent in the Obergefell case legalizing homosexual “marriage,” telling the group that he suspected the decision would be used to “vilify those who disagree and treat them as bigots.” “We are seeing this is coming to pass,” Alito said. He then referenced a famed Bob Dylan song lyric, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” “A wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs,” Alito said.
He told the audience that while religious freedom has been recognized in Congress and the courts, attitudes are not so quick to change. The Supreme Court Justice described how a Democratic lawmaker opposed his 2005 nomination because Alito would make “too many Catholics on the court.” Alito also called on Americans to raise awareness of threats to religious freedom in the wake of Supreme Court rulings such as the Hobby Lobby case, where the company’s Christian owners objected to being forced to provide contraception in violation of their religious beliefs. “We are likely to see pitched battles in courts, Congress and state legislatures,” he said. “But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. It is up to us to evangelize our fellow citizens about the issue of religious freedom.”
Alito’s appearance was sponsored by Advocati Christi, or Advocates of Christ. The initiative is part of the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey’s Catholic Centre for Evangelization. It offers outreach to Catholic lawyers and judges to “deepen their practice of the profession of faith, and integrate it into their daily life and practice.” Alito spoke for about 45 minutes. He talked about the hostility faced by Catholics in the U.S. in previous centuries and his joy while staying up overnight as a Catholic youth in 1960 to witness John F. Kennedy’s election as the first Roman Catholic president. “I felt it had lifted me up from the status of second-class American,” Alito recalled.
While dissenting from the majority in the Obergefell decision, Justice Alito was alone in saying that marriage existed for the sake of procreation and child-rearing. He wrote that the majority opinion was based on ideas of romantic love. He also expressed a concern shared by the other conservative dissenting justices that the Obergefell decision supplants the democratic process with the views of five unelected justices. “If a bare majority of justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only limit on what future majorities could do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate,” Alito wrote in his dissent. “All Americans,” he concluded, “should worry about what the majority’s claim of power portends.”
“JESUS” FILM REACHES ITS 1500TH LANGUAGE TRANSLATION
The “JESUS” film, envisioned by Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, and produced in cooperation with The Genesis Project, has completed translation of its 1,500th language. Attendees of the annual National Religious Broadcasters Convention, Proclaim 17, held recently in Orlando, FL, heard that the “JESUS,” film, the most watched film in history according to “The Guinness Book of World Records”, has completed translation into the Daasanach language, which belongs to an ethnic group inhabiting parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan. Since 1979, Jesus Film Project’s resources and strategies have been utilized in 7.5 billion Gospel presentations in more than 230 countries, and for many individuals in remote areas around the world, “JESUS” is the first motion picture they have ever viewed.
The powerful impact of seeing the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in their heart language has resulted in more than 490 million indicated decisions for Christ following a film showing. Those lives changed reflect Jesus Film Project’s dedication to spreading the Gospel not only through its own direct outreach but also through partnerships with hundreds of ministries and churches that have utilized Jesus Film Project tools; including an app, Bible studies, additional films and other tools, which are readily available at www.jesusfilm.org. “The completion of the 1,500th language translation of ‘JESUS’ is an incredible milestone,” said Josh Newell, Jesus Film Project’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “This marks a critical advancement in reaching those who have never heard the Gospel.”
‘JESUS’ has long been one of the most effective ways to reach people in a way they can immediately understand the message of salvation, and now our reach can go even further.” This translation is another step in reaching the unreached people groups as part of Jesus Film Project’s Mission 865, an initiative to reach the remaining 865 language groups in the world with 50,000 speakers or more representing roughly 323 million people who have not heard the Gospel of Jesus. Mission 865 represents Jesus Film Project’s commitment to reach these groups with Jesus’ story in their language by 2025. “While the Gospel has gone to every modern country in the world; when Jesus commanded His followers to ‘make disciples of all the nations’ in Matthew 28:18-20, He was not referring to modern nations.
Countries that exist today did not exist when Jesus gave the command,” Newell said. “In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded His followers to make disciples from every ethnic people group, which is why achievements such as the 1,500th language translation of ‘JESUS’ makes such a broad impact on this mission.” “JESUS” is available on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally through Jesus Film Project app, available on IOS or Android. In addition to “JESUS,” Jesus Film Project offers additional tools such as “Magdalena,” a film that specifically addresses Jesus ministry toward women, and “The Story of JESUS for Children.” Jesus Film Project continues to carry out Bright’s vision of showing this film to people in every country of the world.
FORGET FREE SPEECH ON UK CAMPUSES – ITS ALL ABOUT POLITICAL CORRECTNESS
In countries where laws are changed to cater to the politically correct agenda of the day, basic freedoms are trampled. In the UK, the legalisation of same-sex marriage is having direct effects on the freedom of speech of its citizens. According to a survey conducted by the online magazine Spiked, freedom of speech has been severely limited on campuses across the UK. The Free Speech University Rankings project surveyed 115 universities across the UK, using a “traffic-light” system where universities were ranked based on their history of censorship. As we have seen in recent days the war on free speech is also in full swing in Australia. The analysis by Spiked indicates that the UK is no different.
The worst offenders, categorised as “universities that have banned and actively censored ideas on campus”, included Oxford, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Newcastle. As reported in The Independent, the most common form of censorship is to ban certain speakers and academics from campuses. But the censorship goes further: Some 21 universities have banned speakers, 20 have banned newspapers, 17 have banned particular adverts, 16 have suspended student societies and nine have banned offensive fancy dress. According to FSUR coordinator, Tom Slater, the results of the survey point to actions taken by university leadership rather than student unions. “Universities are systematically stifling free speech on campus, while students’ unions take all the flak.”
We’ve always maintained that campus censorship is about more than the so-called ‘snowflake generation’ throwing its weight around, and this year’s findings reflect that. “Students’ unions have been pilloried for censoring ‘transphobic’ speech, and enforcing transgender pronouns. But our research shows that the vast majority of policies in this area stem from universities themselves. While students’ unions are significantly more censorious, and deserve all the criticism they get, universities often share and affirm their illiberal, patronising outlook.
Veteran LGBTI activist Peter Tatchell, a vocal advocate for free speech, expressed concerns at the extent of censorship in universities. Tatchell said “Universities used to be bastions of free speech and open debate. As this report shows, they are increasingly hedging free speech with all kinds of qualifications, making it no longer free. “These include having to give lengthy advance notice of external speakers and having to invite an opposition speaker for any contentious issue. “While banning Islamist and far right speakers who endorse violence against women and minorities is justified, many of the current restrictions are not.”
CHRISTIAN NANNIES IN THE GULF ISOLATED AND VULNERABLE TO ABUSE
Locked up in palaces of rich families, abused and treated as slaves by their “owners”, sexually exploited, or almost starved to death. Such is the plight of many foreign Christian nannies and housemaids from Asian countries working for families in the Arabian Peninsula, and almost nobody knows about their situation. Tens of thousands of young, unmarried women from India, the Philippines and Nepal work for Arab families in countries in the Arabian Peninsula. They take care of the children of rich families and perform different household tasks. Most nannies also live in the same house as their employers; they are expected to work at least six days a week, some seven days, and always to be on call for the family’s needs.
“Not all employers are bad,” says Virat, an Asian man who ministers to Christian workers in the Arabian Peninsula. He knows some great stories about families being really kind and supportive towards their childcare nannies. Some Arab families, he says, prefer Christian nannies because of their integrity and trustworthiness. Virat, (not his real name) shares how some of these employers allow their nanny to go to church and visit friends. “Those girls are blessed with employers who are really good,” he says. “Some others are not very good.” He says he knows many horrifying stories of those “not very good” Arab families who abuse their young Asian housemaids and nannies.
“Some of them see themselves as owners of these girls and really treat them like slaves, confiscating their passports when they start working there, making it impossible for them to leave,” he says. Other families don’t feed the girls well, or they let them work hard “like machines”, he adds. “Others beat them up or abuse them sexually.” He says he has heard accounts of nannies being killed, their bodies even chopped up and made to disappear. “One nanny I ministered to was repeatedly raped by the three generations of men in the house she worked in – grandfather, father and son – before she could escape to safety,” he says.
Constant civil war and economic collapse are being blamed for famine in South Sudan. Particularly critical is the northern Unity State of South Sudan, but famine is rapidly spreading to all of the country. It has been six years since a country has declared famine. Other nations on the verge of the same declaration are Somalia, Yemen, and northeast Nigeria. Constant warfare and strife between the rival tribes, the Nuer and the Dinka has crushed the country’s ability to function and provide safety for its people. The United Nations reports 100,000 are facing starvation with one million more on the brink of famine. The UN World Food Program (WFP) announced that
40 percent of the country’s population is in urgent need of food.
Certain criteria must be met for a country to declare famine: at least 20 percent of households face extreme food shortages and cannot cope; acute malnutrition exceeds 30 percent, and the death rate exceeds two deaths per day per 10,000 persons. According to WFP head in South Sudan, Joyce Luma, the famine was “man-made after three years of conflict across the country stifled crop production and hit farmers and rural livelihoods.” “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). Please pray for:
* Divine intervention to raise up peacemakers to broker a sustainable compromise between the Dinka and Nuer government factions that will trickle down to individual tribal members.
* South Sudan is 58% Christian. Pray the Christians receive the revelation that all Christians belong as one people. Pray too for an outpouring of humanitarian aid and food to flood South Sudan in the wake of this declaration of famine.
* The cessation of conflict to enable farmers to have a successful planting season and for South Sudanese Christians to persevere in prayer for the survival of their nation.