What would the world be
This month we’ve chosen
Rejoice with me as you
North Korean Christians Fund at Work
Five-year-old Soon-Yi of
North Korea didn’t understand when she heard her father, in
hushed tones, tell a close family member
that her mother had been arrested. Her crime was
“speaking against the party.” Soon-Yi didn’t know what
those words meant, but she couldn’t ignore her father’s worry.
When her mother
returned home, Soon-Yi did not recognize her.
Mercilessly beaten, she
was badly bruised and in great pain.
It was difficult for her to move. She soon
miscarried—in her eighth month. Soon-Yi’s father gently tended to
his wife and began plotting their escape from North Korea. Along the border,
North Korean guards shoot to kill anyone who makes an attempt. Although Soon-Yi
and her parents ultimately succeeded, her mother never recovered from her
abuse, and she died in
China. Now it was just Soon-Yi and her father.
Because her father
didn’t have papers that would
allow him access to work, housing, or food in
China, they lived anonymously on the fringe of society.
Thankfully, however, Christian believers who were willing to endanger
their own lives found them and helped them. Soon-Yi’s father found
Christ and so did she. He then began clandestinely traveling back and forth
between China and North Korea, passionately serving the underground church
there. Life settled into the uncertain rhythm of living outside the law.
Soon-Yi’s world turned upside down again
when she reached age fifteen. Her father was
arrested in North Korea for proselytizing and was
sentenced to death. His case was highly publicized and
Soon-Yi found herself being sought by bounty hunters who wanted
the reward offered by North Korean
authorities for her capture.
China did not recognize her as a person and would not grant
her refugee status. She was under the same death sentence as her father.
Believers moved her to a remote safe house.
Our partner in North
Korean ministry, Alpha Relief, worked with
the UN High Commission for Refugees as well as
high level connections in Washington DC, on
Soon-Yi’s behalf. After months of persistence, she was
to leave China and was admitted into South Korea as a political refugee.
Now sixteen years old, Soon-Yi is safe. An uncle living in South Korea
now cares for her, and she attends
a church in Seoul.
Despite international protest,
was executed in North Korea a short time ago for his religious activity.
He is now in heaven, but hundreds of thousands of believers in North Korea are
facing severe hardship and persecution. As many as 70,000 Christians are being
held in political prison camps. Stories that have leaked out regarding those
camps are almost unspeakable in their horror. Please help us continue to
provide relief to Christians inside North Korea.
Christian Refugees Fund at Work in Sri Lanka
For twenty-six years in
the island-nation of Sri Lanka, the LTTE, better known as the Tamil Tigers,
have been fighting for an independent state for ethnic Tamils in a war that has
claimed 70,000 lives. At one time, the LTTE controlled a third of the nation.
At this writing, however, government forces are close to a final victory,
having pushed the LTTE forces back to a patch of land along the northeast
Earlier this year, the
Sri Lankan government designated a “no-fire zone” where civilians
could find shelter from the fighting. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of
civilians have found themselves trapped with the rebels inside this zone. Now,
all supplies to the area have been cut off and food and medicine are scarce.
Civilians have been caught in the crossfire and it is estimated that 6,500 have
been killed in the past few months. Not wanting to lose their human shields,
LTTE soldiers are shooting at those who try to cross over to the
government-controlled areas. The LTTE is accusing the Sri Lankan government of
Thousands have risked
their lives making the precarious journey to safety in the middle of the night,
crossing rivers and a shallow part of the sea, to escape the LTTE-controlled
area. Those who have succeeded are now being held in detention camps in
Partnering with the
Foursquare Churches of Sri Lanka, Heaven’s Family has sent relief using gifts from our Christian Refugees Fund to help meet the immediate
needs of believers who escaped with only the clothing they were wearing. One of
them was Anoma, age 21, pictured above.
Anoma, a follower of
Jesus, was conscripted by the rebels to fight, but she refused. She was punished
and sent to the front lines. Anoma escaped, however, and fled to her aunt’s
home. Her aunt literally buried her in the sand to keep her hidden from those
who were searching for her. She was ultimately able to escape in the middle of
the night to the government-controlled area, but she is now living in a refugee
camp. As of this writing, there are still hundreds of believers trapped in the
LTTE-controlled area, praying to survive their ordeal.
(pictured at right with his youngest daughter) escaped
with his wife and two children, after having been displaced seven times due to
fighting in their region. Pastor Krishnakumar related that as
they were leaving one area to move to another, the Holy Spirit prompted him not
to go, and so he and his family stayed back. He later learned that around fifty
people who took the route he intended to travel that night with his
family had been killed by shelling and shooting.
Widows & Abandoned Women Fund at Work in Macedonia
Two amazing followers of
Christ of whom the world is not worthy are Dave and Lee Gilman, called to make
disciples among a special group of people who live primarily in Europe,
but who trace their lineage to medieval India. They’re known as Roma,
or Gypsies. They number in the millions.
Roma generally live on
the margins of society in squalid squatter communities. They are often blamed
for criminal activity and are subject to daily discrimination. Last
summer, photographs were published of Italian sunbathers enjoying a day at
the beach, swimming, sipping soft drinks and chatting, just a few yards
from where the bodies of two drowned Roma sisters, age 12 and 13, were laid out
on the sand awaiting collection from the local morgue. Roma are accustomed to being despised, which is why they are always
shocked when Dave and Lee speak to them in their native tongue. Nobody cares
about them—except Jesus.
In 2006, Lee Gilman
befriended a Roma woman named Suzana, who was a prostitute and widow with three
children under her care. They lived together with a group of other Roma behind
an illegal dump outside the city of Skopje in the republic of Macedonia. Like
all the other Roma, their one-room shack was made from materials gathered at
Lee shared the gospel,
and Suzana opened her heart to Jesus, repented, and was transformed. She quit
her profession and decided to trust God to provide all her needs by
collecting recyclables to sell, while her teenage son rented a horse and
cart to work as a private trash collector. A new creation in Christ, Suzana
shared her earnings with “the poor,” and would often open her
one-room shack to strangers who didn’t have a place to stay. She would say, “If
God sent this person to me, how could I turn her away?”
One day Suzana returned
home to find that her shack was gone, leveled by government bulldozers along
with the other Roma dwellings in her “neighborhood.” Staring into the
ditch that held all of her meager belongings, she said, “It’s OK. God will give
it back to me, and it will be even better.” A week later, she was able to move
to a more solid house in Shutka, a Roma village of about 40,000 on the
outskirts of Skopje. It consists of two rooms built from concrete blocks. It does
not have running water. Suzana built a crude outhouse out back.
Recently, the Macedonian
government made illegal just about everything the Roma do to earn a
living. For example, Roma collect plastic bottles in large bags and sell
them to recycling plants, but they aren’t allowed to dig through dumpsters any
more to search for plastic bottles. Nor are they permitted now to ride
their horse-drawn carts on paved Macedonian roads. They aren’t allowed to sell
anything on the streets. They aren’t allowed to beg anymore at traffic
lights. Suzana found herself out of work.
In April, however, Heaven’s
Family provided funding from
our Widows & Abandoned Women Fund to help Suzana set
up a small convenience store to sell vegetables and other staples
from one of the two rooms of her home. As shelving, paint, door lock,
scale, bins, calculator, and other store items started arriving at her
house, people gathered to see what was going on. After Suzana explained the
plan for her store one onlooker said, “With your big heart you will give everything
away within five days.” Everyone laughed because they know what she’s
like. So does the Lord.
Irasema Walks Again
Critical Medical Needs Fund at Work in Mexico
“What if that
little girl was my daughter?” I kept asking myself. Up until a few months
earlier, Irasema had been a perfectly healthy little six-year-old. She started experiencing
alarming symptoms, however, at first passing out when she stood up from her
school desk, but eventually being unable to walk at all. She lost her appetite
and was losing weight.
Irasema’s father carried
her to the evening church services where she would slump on his lap the entire
time. She could not even hold her head upright. During worship, he would clap
her hands for her, because she couldn’t clap them herself. It was
heart-breaking to observe. Like any father, he desperately wanted his precious
daughter to be well, but he had no idea what was wrong with her.
Almost every night last
September when I was with missionaries Jason and Nicole Fitzpatrick in Mexico,
I joined them as they did what they do almost every night of the week. We
hopped in their truck and took off for some remote village where they had
planted a church among some very poor descendants of the Aztec Indians. Those
churches met in little crowded shack-like houses, or under crude wooden
shelters, and Jason and his disciples would preach by the light of a single
suspended light bulb. Irasema and her mother and father were often at those
gatherings, as Jason would pick them up each evening on his way.
Nicole explained to me
that she and Jason had taken Irasema to a doctor, and she had been tested for
many illnesses, but to no avail. The remaining option was expensive and five
hours away—specialized tests at Children’s Hospital in Puebla.
I was blessed to leave
Jason and Nicole with some money from the Critical
Medical Needs Fund for that purpose. Irasema went through days of
testing over a two-month period, and she was eventually diagnosed with
dermatomyositis, a connective-tissue, muscle and nerve disease, the cause of
which is unknown. The doctors told Jason that Irasema’s disease had
progressed untreated for too long. But they put her on medications and daily
physical therapy. The churches prayed.
Heaven’s Family (that’s you!) has been blessed to pay not only for
Irasema’s tests, but ongoing therapy and medication since her
diagnosis. By late October, she was able to stand on her own and walk a
few steps. Now, seven months later, Irasema is eating well, running and
playing. All the signs are looking good for a full recovery. Thanks for making
this blessing possible.
July’s New Testament Reading Schedule
The New Testament
reading schedule below is for those who started reading with us in January. But
you can start at anytime to read through the New Testament in twelve months
along with David Servant’s daily commentary, HeavenWord Daily. Just click on the HeavenWord Daily link at the home page of HeavensFamily.org.
Every weekday thereafter, HeavenWord Daily will be waiting in your email inbox when you
awake. Each weekday, you’ll read one New Testament chapter (an average of 700
words) and David’s commentary—never longer than 700 words—on the day’s
Bible chapter. Total time needed by an average reader: About six minutes! Sign
up today, and start each day with a motivational “do-votional!”
Don’t Forget Your Family This Summer!
experience a downturn in contributions during the summer months. Coupled with
the recession, the outlook for this summer is cause for concern. Yet the
critical needs that are being faced by the members of our spiritual family
around the world will not slow down. Please don’t forget your family this
summer! Thanks so much.
Cool Stuff at HeavensFamily.org
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