She is Brave, Bold and Courageous

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'You will wait here until I come back and decide what to do with you.' The door slammed and the terrorist snapped shut the padlock on the other side. Myself and two other Christians with me were trapped in a Taliban safe house. We were in a city we did not know, sharing the gospel from door to door, and had unwittingly knocked on the local Taliban leader's door.

"At that point, I began to feel unwell," Miriam says, interrupting her story. She has no penchant for the dramatic.

I knelt, and placed my hands on the door to pray. For two and a half hours I prayed for Jesus to deliver us. Then some of the terrorists came back and threw us in the back of a car and started to drive. 'Where are you taking us?' I kept asking them. They said nothing...

Miraculously, Miriam and her friends were driven to the nearest Catholic church, pushed out of the car, and told by the driver, "I don't know why he's letting you go, but you must leave this city and never come back."

With the support of Alpha Relief's partners Miriam has stayed the course and continued as an undercover frontline missionary to her nation. She works in one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a Christian in, and has encountered many harrowing situations. Recently, Miriam had to spend some time in a new city when Christians were kidnapped and killed by ISIS loyalists near her home. While she was away she helped to plant a new house church, and has been traveling around the country training new Believers in evangelism.

"Miriam is persistent, and very tenacious," a friend explained, "sometimes I fear for those standing in opposition to her rather than for her. She is brave, bold and courageous."

Miriam and many other undercover frontline missionaries rely on your support through Alpha Relief to empower them for full-time ministry. Providing for living expenses and travel costs to get to unreached villages is a practical way to resource the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Join Alpha Relief, support an undercover frontline missionary for $50, $100, or $250 a month, and be a supply line to the front line of the gospel!

The (re)Forgotten War

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In a dark corner of South Asia, decades of military rule and civil war have hindered development and resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Systematic persecution of majority-Christian ethnic groups remains widespread. An international outcry over war-crimes against the innocent calmed the situation some in recent years. But as other global events grab the attention of the media and political leaders, has the plight of this shadow-nation been re-forgotten? 

Pastor G. is working toward self-sustainability.

Pastor G. is working toward self-sustainability.

 

Against this stark backdrop, we find Pastor G. Pastor G. has been laboring quietly and faithfully along the Moei River which divides Thailand and Myanmar/Burma. There, he and his wife educate and care for orphans of the war, and share what little they have to feed the refugees surrounding them. They are working hard to become self-sustainable through agriculture.

Nearly everyone he meets has lost someone in the conflict. Political maneuvers which care nothing for the people on the ground have left thousands with no UN support, no right to work, and no homes to go back to. Thanks to Alpha Relief supporters, Pastor G. is empowered to provide life-saving relief and the light of the gospel to hundreds who have run out of places to turn.

Wearing new school uniforms and bright smiles.

Wearing new school uniforms and bright smiles.

Would you consider helping empower frontline leaders like Pastor G. for the fulfillment of the Great Commission?

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With Joy, You Will Draw Water

In a dusty village in the rural backwater of a Central-Asian nation, a rooster crows. Five-year-old Amit stirs on his mat. Soon, he sits up and rubs the sleep from his eyes. The horizon is just beginning to glow a deep red. Thirsty, Amit stumbles over to a repurposed yellow, plastic gasoline canister and lifts the spout to his lips, drinking deeply. You might balk at the taste of earth and grass. It's still dark enough that you wouldn't cringe at the brown hue. But Amit has never known anything different. He doesn't know that this water which quenches the night's thirst is what's making him sick. Later, his sister Neeti, who's twelve, will carry the plastic jug down to the canal. She'll push aside the livestock and refill the container with the same mud-mixed dregs the goats are drinking. Neeti knows. A few more years of wisdom have taught her that it's not supposed to be this way. Thanks to Alpha Relief supporters, it won't be this way much longer.

It has been really painful to see what kind of water they are drinking.
— Pastor W.

It's not hard to imagine kids like "Amit" and "Neeti", and see through the mind's eye how much a clean water source would improve their lives. Pastor W. has had a dream to do something about it for quite some time. He cares about the poor in his nation, and cares that they have clean water to drink. But even more so, he cares for their souls and wants to offer them the living water of the gospel. But some in the villages he's trying to reach see this as a threat, and they've set themselves against Pastor W. and his team. Enter, Alpha Relief.

Alpha Relief empowers frontline leaders to advance the gospel in their communities, even amidst persecution. So quenching the physical thirst of rural villages is no less than the open door Pastor W. has been praying for. Through well-drilling, and the installation of pumps and filters, the hands-on love of Christ is shown. The opposition melts away.

Join Alpha Relief to supply clean water to rural villages and watch Isaiah's prophecy come to life:  "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation," Isaiah 12:3.

 

Gospel-first Emergency Relief

One might expect an update from the epicenter of the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world to emphasize the famine that is threatening the lives of 20 million people. Thousands flee South Sudan daily in search of food. They eat what vegetation they can find along the way. But with a tone of hope, the frontline leader Global Advance partners with in South Sudan wrote of many coming to the Lord, and the need for Scripture in local languages. “Pray for us,” he closed quite simply, “many are starving.” The Gospel was primary.

What are frontline leaders? In every nation, God has positioned influential people to advance His Kingdom. The front line of the Gospel is where the Church is taking root in new areas and people groups. Persecution of Christians in these areas is common.

On May 30th, Cyclone Mora tore into the southern coast of Bangladesh where thousands displaced from Myanmar had hunkered down to await their fate. They fled brutality from the Burmese military regime into the brutal arms of nature. The storm quickly flattened entire refugee settlements. It was not a reactive move for our frontline leader to jump into action to provide emergency food, water, and shelter: his team had already been working faithfully to share the Gospel among the refugees.

“It is maybe our only opportunity to reach out to thousands of refugees before they are scattered all over the world,” explained the frontline leader ministering to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Homeless, they await visa approvals for their asylum applications to western nations, which could take months. In great need and facing desperate situations, their hearts are open and seeking eternal hope in Christ. So the local church is welcoming them in with the message of the Gospel and caring for their needs.

The frontline leaders Global Advance partners with all share a common conviction: only the Gospel of Jesus Christ carries true hope and the power of transformation for those in great need. By your support of Global Advance they are able to minister to physical needs: 200 families in South Sudan received maize flour, 150 families in Bangladesh were given 40kg of food, water purifiers, and tarps, and 200 Syrian families received emergency food packs, each with a Bible lovingly placed on top. There is no question, this is the tangible expression of Christ’s love given through his body, the Church.

Will you widen the impact of frontline leaders by providing them emergency relief, Scripture, training, tools, and economic empowerment through Global Advance? Your gift makes their work possible.

The Modern-day Prodigal Son

Can you think of someone who has strengthened you in your faith, encouraged you when you were weak, and helped you grow in the Lord? It's Father's Day, so perhaps your dad comes to mind. Or maybe your own father was absent in one way or another, and a father-in-the-faith stands out to you - a pastor, leader, teacher, mentor, or author? Pastor Moses is one such father-figure to a community of believers in a closed nation. But not everyone welcomes the message of the gospel Pastor Moses shares, not even his own son.

Pastor Moses is truly a faithful servant to the Lord, and has been a key frontline leader in the network he serves for many years. Recently something seemed a little off. Moses' son had been growing increasingly aggressive and hostile because of the family's faith in Christ and dedication to the Church: what the son saw as a fruitless pursuit. In rebellion, he became involved in drugs and alcohol.

Then it happened: Pastor Moses’ son demanded his inheritance early. In their culture this meant the family land and home. In a violent episode Moses, his wife, and their young daughter were forced out of the house. Having nowhere else to go, they built a small place in a rice field.

Please pray for Pastor Moses and his family. You can give through Alpha Relief to help with their daily needs, and help Moses buy a small plot of land on which he can construct a new home nearer to the church he pastors. The pain of a broken family remains, but the loving Father-heart of God lives on in Moses toward his son. 

Into the Fray (Planting Churches in a War Zone)

For years, Alpha Relief's attitude toward supporting the persecuted Church has been simple: when others run out, we run in. Most ministry training operations would select a peaceful locale with iconic views for a weekend conference. When the opportunity arose for Alpha Relief to invest in the training of frontline leaders with a desire to plant churches, there was only one small complication: they were all caught in the middle of a war zone in Burma.

Front line (noun): the military line or part of an army that is closest to the enemy.

A complication, perhaps, to some. But Alpha Relief aims to empower frontline leaders to fulfill the Great Commission in their own communities. A true war rages in Burma as the military junta aims to seize and control the natural resources in areas populated by traditionally-Christian minority ethnic groups. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, and the spiritual war is just as real. The hope of the gospel of Jesus is just what is needed, and these brave leaders aim to bring it.

Three back-to-back conferences were conducted in villages fringing the conflict area. In all, 180 were trained and discipled, and they were encouraged in their commitments to plant churches throughout Burma. Your faithful support made this possible. They are doing the work of the gospel; you are ensuring they can keep doing it.

"Jesus has the answers you seek."

Yohannes is a church planter in Islam-entrenched North Africa. A few weeks ago, Yohannes felt the Lord leading him to pray and fast for 21 days. One week into his fast Yohannes had a vision. Here is how he relayed it: "After one week of fasting and praying I had a vision. In my vision I saw a Muslim man sitting in an area which I know. This man was under heavy pressure and was struggling to escape. As I woke up, I felt that I had to go that particular place. As I arrived I saw the same guy whom I saw in my vision hours before. I started to talk with him. 'Did Allah send you?' he asked."

Yohannes learned that the man's name was Hassan. Hassan was shocked to hear that Yohannes came after seeing him there in a vision. He presumed that Allah had sent Yohannes to help him. Hassan shared that he was a highly ranked Muslim scholar, but he had many questions that were not answered by Islam. Hassan was discouraged and frustrated with life, and told Yohannes that he knew eternity would be no better than his life on Earth.

Yohannes explained to Hassan that it was, in fact, Jesus that had sent him. "Jesus has the answers you seek," Yohannes encouraged him. A relationship was formed, and after weeks of questioning and discussion, Hassan gave his heart to the Lord. He is now being discipled in the underground local church which Yohannes planted, funded by Alpha Relief.

Donate to the Discipleship fund to continue empowering underground church leaders to advance the Gospel.

Church in the Land of the Thunder Dragon

Across the Himalayan mountain range in the nation of Bhutan, the snow fell with big flakes. We prepared to meet secretly with national pastors for a three day training event. From the moment of our arrival, we experienced a heavy spiritual attack. Half of our Global Advance training team became very sick, and the sudden snowfall blocked our travel for a day while they cleared the mountain pass. This was the first time Global Advance had gone to Bhutan, and convening this training event had required nearly two years of planning and preparation. As we traveled to our clandestine location, we prayed and prepared to meet key leaders who are advancing the kingdom of God in Bhutan.

Known as the land of the “Thunder Dragon”, this quiet and often forgotten Buddhist nation prides itself as a place of happiness and peace. However, we know that it is only Jesus that can bring joy and peace. This small nation, located between China on the north and India on the south, is a closed-access Buddhist nation where the secret churches that exist are unregistered and operate predominantly in homes. The process to mobilize pastors and leaders for a training in a nation like Bhutan is a logistical wonder.

We chose a quiet, secluded location near the Indi-Bhutan border where pastors would feel safe to gather. The Global Advance Frontline Pastors Conference carried a two-fold purpose. One was that we wanted to encourage and strengthen relationships between pastors, while at the same time providing much needed training for leading the church. We also wanted to build a national team of pastors who could work together with Global Advance building a strategy to reach the unreached and partner together in this important SAARC region.

The SAARC region of 8 nations represents nearly 2 billion unreached people. Global Advance is committed to investing much needed resources in this region to help indigenous leaders across the SAARC nations work together to complete the Great Commission. These indigenous leaders are perfectly positioned to preach the Gospel, plant churches, and send others to evangelize unengaged people groups. We are working to provide training and tools to aid these heros of the faith to complete the task, so that one day the Great Commission will become the Great Fulfillment!

Our time in Bhutan proved to be very fruitful. From the first day of training, the heaviness these pastors carried began to lift.  By our third day, the pastors were filled with joy. Throughout the training event, we fostered a network of leaders ready to build a national strategy for reaching their nation. Over 91 pastors and leaders found the training to be practical for their context and have asked Global Advance to return with more training and relief aid through our Alpha Relief initiative for the persecuted church. As a direct result of this training, 16 leaders made a commitment to plant a new church, and 45 leaders committed to going to preach and share the gospel with others. Over the next several years, with your support, we will invest heavily in the SAARC region and will continue to support the growing church planting movement in Bhutan. Thank you for sending Global Advance to the nations.

The Humility of a Rural Pastor

Pastor S. in Southeast Asia was overjoyed to hear that Alpha Relief's partners had gathered together enough funds to provide him a motorbike. He cares for a very rural Christian community, and his efforts in spreading the Gospel were hampered by unreliable buses, expensive (when available) moto taxis, or the exhaustion of simply walking everywhere. So the prospect of having his own moto meant an immense leap forward for the Kingdom in his village and the surrounding jungle areas. You can imagine the despair Pastor S. felt when he heard he would not be able to accept the gift.

The community is not only rural, it is poor. And for Pastor S. to suddenly appear in town riding a shiny new moto would raise immense suspicion. If the authorities learned that the Church provided Pastor S. the bike for spreading the Gospel, it could mean the moto would be impounded. Even worse would be in store for Pastor S. himself.

Pastor S. with the new bike.

Pastor S. with the new bike.

In unity with his ministry leadership, a plan was developed. Pastor S. was encouraged to get a job in construction for two months. It could reasonably be assumed that a down payment for the motorbike came from his new income. In humility and faithfulness, Pastor S. submitted to his leadership, got the job, and worked hard in construction by day while continuing to share the Gospel in his community. Finally, Pastor S. was gracefully able to accept the motorbike. Now his reach has expanded tenfold and the Gospel continues to advance thanks to Alpha Relief's generous partners!

Will you help empower brave and faithful Kingdom workers like Pastor S. to continue to share the Gospel?

"Keep warm and well fed!"

Many in the west conjure images of deserts, palm trees, camels, and heat when thinking of the Middle East. The reality in Syria is that winters are bitter cold, with temperatures regularly below freezing.

If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? James 2:16, NIV

Gabriel has been faithfully reaching out to hidden Christian families in Syria with Alpha Relief's support. So when he told us about the need for heaters, blankets, and fuel, we just had to help. The destruction of war has made normal services and supplies unavailable. Centralized heating and modern insulation technology don't exist. But don't take our word for it, read what Gabriel experienced first hand below.

Write here...

I just got back from 2 days trip to Syria. The goal of this trip is to help the suffering and displaced Christians get some heating materials. As I shared with you, now it is winter and the temperature in Damascus goes very low and below freezing, people need heaters, fuel, blankets and warm winter clothes. Unfortunately many of those people cannot afford buying those necessities. During our last 2 visits fuel, gas, heating fuel were not available on the market and people had to buy them on the black market which make the prices higher. To add to the Syrian people misery, electricity was supplied only 2 to 4 hours every 24 hours.

(By the way, yesterday I barely made it to the borders as we run out of fuel when we traveled to Syria)

The plan: We decide to buy, gas heater and gas bottles to distribute on those who don’t have any means to warm themselves. Those who already have fuel heaters, we will try to supply them with the fuel. Also we are distributing heavy duty blankets each family according to their needs.

This plan will be running over the next few weeks, possibly all the way until the mid of March. We have started yesterday, buy buying and distributing the above mentioned materials.

Will you join us in helping Gabriel get these families through the winter? They are the ones who stayed - the ones who are ready to rebuild the Church in Syria.

Christians fleeing war in Southeast Asia

As bombs rained down in the jungle on a remote village, a young family scrambled to grab what belongings they could fit on their motorbike. One word raced through their minds: escape. As members of a predominantly Christian minority group in Southeast Asia, they found themselves on the wrong side of an ethnic and religious divide. As they fled down remote jungle roads with thousands of other newly-homeless families they took comfort in the Gospel and the knowledge that they were not alone. Little did they know they were running toward a dead end.

Overshadowed by the politics of immigration in the western news media is the truth that the crisis of displaced peoples is global. In Southeast Asia, refugees are being coldly turned away at the borders of neighboring nations. The message is clear: your plight is insignificant and does not matter. You don’t matter.

We’re shouting down that message with a louder, clearer truth: Jesus also had no place to lay his head and Jesus was also rejected and pushed out. You matter to him and you matter to his body, the Church. This message is communicated through Alpha Relief’s partners who are providing food, shelter, and spiritual care in Southeast Asia and other “Red Zones.”

Join the movement and light the nations this year!

2016- A Look Back at an Incredible Year

2016 was an incredible year. We wanted to take a quick look back and show how your support went to help the persecuted church.

Christmas Inside Red Zones (Celebrating Jesus In Dangerous Places)

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Are you getting excited? There is always a special buzz this time of year as our neighborhoods and shopping malls once again boldly display their holiday decorations. For believers in Jesus’ supernatural invasion into our world, Christmas is a reason to sing our joy from the roof tops. 

But what if Christmas decorations and songs targeted us for those set on ending our lives? Hard to imagine, right? Yet there are places in the world where those threats are a reality. These are the areas where religious extremism is growing against Christianity. These are the “Red Zones.” 

For believers living in Red Zones, Christmas will look very different. Most will find it difficult to celebrate with their families and their underground churches that are in very real danger. But maybe there is a way we can help change their story. Let me explain…

PAKISTAN: Pakistan proclaims religious freedom for Christians, but the underground reality is much different. Ministries have been firebombed, pastors have been brutally beaten in the streets, and missionaries are hunted by Muslim extremists. 

Despite all they face, Pastor Ollie and Nadia are two on-site partners in Pakistan who are pushing back the onslaught against their brothers and sisters in Christ. Ollie has worked diligently to plant the first known churches for Pakistan’s most unreached people group, while Nadia has established secret safe house gatherings for underground believers along the border of Afghanistan. These are areas populated with radical jihadists, requiring special care for discipleship and evangelism outreaches.

Around the time we are meeting openly in our congregations for Christmas Eve services, the underground Pakistani church will also gather. In small groups they will huddle around an iPad screen or Skype signal via cell phone, tools you as supporters helped purchase. From a remote location, Nadia can lead them in some hymns about Jesus’ birth and then walk them through the Christmas story. It will not be an extravagant celebration, but it will bring the much needed hope that our Savior is known for.

NORTH AFRICA: Alpha Relief supports a special training and restoration center in North Africa for missionaries and church planters. Most of these brave students have suffered for their faith in Christ but are now committed to going back into Red Zones to reach their persecutors with the Gospel. Amazingly, some students are even former African-Islamic extremists who persecuted believers. After radical encounters with Jesus, they too want to bring the same freedom to their families.

Ezekiel graduated from the school and is now supported by your gifts as a church planter in a North African Red Zone where more than 70% of the population follow Islam. He leads a small gathering of former Muslim believers, all of whom he led to Jesus. Recently, the Lord moved Ezekiel to take a huge risk and speak openly about his faith with a respected Islamic teacher. After days of gently sharing the truth of the Gospel, the teacher finally admitted that he was convinced Jesus was in fact Lord. 

Ezekiel conveyed this to us: “Now, I am waiting for the day of his final decision. I believe that in his heart he is already a follower of the Messiah. He is afraid of the community to declare it. I need prayer support that God would change his life. Although he knows that our talk does not expose him as a Christian, still he is afraid that he may be stoned to death.” As Christmas day dawns in this North African Red Zone, there is a very real chance that this teacher will be joining Ezekiel’s small church in celebrating the birth of his new Savior.

Friends, these amazing Christmas stories are possible because of your prayers and support. The celebration of Jesus’ birth in Red Zones looks much different than our own and is much more dangerous than we can possibility understand. Even so, every person in Christ’s family is connected by this miraculous hope: Jesus entered the world and rescued us!

Would you prayerfully consider continuing that rescue story for many others who desperately need the freedom Jesus offers? Heroes like Ollie, Nadia, Ezekiel, and the churches they serve, need us to come alongside them. Your support this Christmas can ensure their mission continues to thrive, as well as the mission of many others in Red Zones all around the world. On behalf of our family around the world; Merry Christmas, and thank you for ensuring hope!

 

Under The Radar (Stories of Modern Day Bible Smugglers)

Imagine a world in which you cannot own a copy of God's Word. It’s hard to do as most of us own two or three personal copies. Yet millions of persecuted believers in the world today face the troubling reality of being denied the Bible. For some, however, that's changing. 

Alpha Relief continues to work with brave on-site partners who are breaking into closed areas hostile to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Through their brave acts, thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ are, even today, receiving their very first Bible. This month we wanted to share some incredible new opportunities our heroes have notified us about. As you will discover, the danger of these initiatives remains high. 

Ready to learn just how exciting Bible smuggling can be?

Myanmar

The Hakha Chin, a people group inside Myanmar, have been brutally persecuted for the last 60 years by their government. These fellow believers in Christ face slave labor, torture, rape, forced Buddhist conversion, and other inhumane treatment. Persecution has also brought poverty for the Hakha Chin. Their scarce resources are used for food and shelter. Having money to purchase Bibles is unheard of. 

Mattaus has seen first hand the effects persecution has had on these precious people. It's his life’s mission to bring them hope. Using backdoor entry points, Mattaus crosses covertly into Myanmar with small pickup trucks loaded with Bibles translated in the Hakha Chins' native language. The sheer joy on the faces of those who receive this priceless gift lets him know the risk is worth it. But Mattaus can’t do it on his own. He needs our help to ensure another delivery is available for his next cross-border mission.

Number of Bibles needed: 2,500

Cost per Bible: $4 

 

Middle East

Like Mattaus, many of Alpha Relief’s Middle East partners risk the dangers of war zones and terrorist controlled areas to reach persecuted families and covert worshipers of Jesus. Some, like our friend Gabriel, focus their efforts on Christian families trapped inside Syria who were forced to flee their homes when ISIS invaded their villages. Most barely made it out alive with just the clothes on their backs and now mourn the loss of all their possessions, including their Bibles. 

Other partners like Nadia use digital technology to share discipleship material and scripture secretly with underground believers. Although terrorist groups like Al Qaida hunt for Nadia to destroy her work, this brave woman continues to use Skype, iPads, and cell phone technology to ensure a growing number of new believers are being fed spiritually. But Gabriel, Nadia, and other other Middle East friends can’t do it without your help.

Number of Bibles needed: 5,000

Cost per Bible (Paper $5 - Digital $30)

 

China

Inside China, the church is exploding with growth. But a strong-willed government still regulates the amount of Bibles allowed in the country. It is estimated that only one in four believers own their own copy of Scripture inside China. Even digital scripture is restricted as many Christian websites and apps continue to be firewalled.

Our friend Brandon is not deterred by the physical and digital boundaries around China. Disguised as a business rep, this undercover agent for the Gospel and his team smuggle hundreds of Bibles a day hidden inside suitcases and briefcases. He has many stories of Bibles being found on his person only to be kept by curious border guards for future study (an unintentional evangelism tool). But for every Bible confiscated, thousands more slip through to be distributed to the Chinese house churches all over the country. Believers will literally kiss and hold the books to their chest when they receive them, grateful for Brandon’s bravery to provide the priceless gift. Brandon desires to offer that same gift to thousands more desperate believers and needs our help to do it.

Number of Bibles needed: 5,000

Cost per Bible: $5

As you can see, the world still needs God’s word. There are heroes poised and ready to make the dangerous deliveries. All that remains is for you to embrace your role in the story. Ready to join in? Click on an Urgent Need below and get started today. 

 

Back into the Darkness (North Korean Torture, Escape, and Redemption)

Far off the busy South Korean streets, our small Alpha Relief team quietly sits opposite Hana, a North Korean escapee who wants to tell us her story. It is a journey filled with pain and she absent-mindedly fidgets with the scarf around her neck, a piece of clothing much too warm for the late spring temperature. The scarf is, however, very effective at covering a secret ... a secret we are about to learn. 

Growing up inside North Korea, food was scarce for Hana’s family. When her husband died from sickness due to malnutrition, she began questioning what might exist outside of the closed North Korean borders. Bribing a hungry border guard, the young woman quietly made her escape into China to look for a better life.

Just one week later she was discovered by Chinese police, bound in chains, and brought back inside North Korea as a traitor. As she waited for her punishment, authorities discovered that Hana’s grandmother had a record with the government as an identified Christian. Although Hana emphatically professed the truth that she had no knowledge of the religion, guards began mercilessly torturing her.

Hana recounts being strapped to a chair, raised off the floor by a chain pulley, then dropped violently as her bones and muscles bruised with the intense trauma. Wire was strung around her neck and then violently yanked tight, choking the air from her windpipe. Hana momentarily pauses her re-telling to again fidget with the scarf around her neck. She tells us the scarf hides the area where the wire had cut into her delicate skin. It’s then we realize some of her scars from those horrible days will always remain. 

The battered woman’s anger should have been directed toward her grandmother for the undeserved pain. Instead, Hana’s thoughts of the old woman’s gentle singing, quickly became her only comfort. Throughout her torture, she would hum those same melodies, using them as her only source for staying sane. Later, she would realize that her grandmother’s songs were old Korean Gospel Hymns, carrying words that would bring her true freedom.

Hana was eventually set free. Completely disillusioned with the lies her country had told her, she could think of nothing else but escape. 

The details of her harrowing journey to once-and-for-all leave North Korea behind are a powerful story in and of themselves. After almost a year on the run, Hana finally made it to South Korea. There she met friends of Alpha Relief who oversee a church community which embraces North Korean refugees. Although hostile to the Gospel at first, Hana found her heart softening with each act of love the church offered her. It wasn’t long before she embraced the faith of her grandmother and asked Jesus to be her Savior.

Our team frequently asks about future dreams when visiting with North Koreans who have escaped. Hana’s answer surprised us. She said she hopes to one day lead a team of missionaries back into North Korea to help build a church community for those remaining in darkness.

Light in the darkness. Hope for the very persecutors who left her with scars. It’s the kind of story only Jesus could write.

Interested in joining Hana and other brave heroes in bringing light into the darkness? You’ll find some great ways to get involved below.

 

Vanishing Christians (A Shocking Revelation Inside Syria)

Gabriel’s journey had taken its toll emotionally. The brave missionary had been through ten checkpoints to reach the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Each guard who asked to see his credentials could have been an ISIS militant in disguise, capable of stealing his precious cargo, or worse, taking his life. Although he had reached his desired destination, the bombs and gunfire in the distance reminded him that his mission was far from over.

Like many missionaries in the Middle East, Gabriel had done everything in his power to provide aid and the Gospel message to the millions of Syrian refugees fleeing civil war and ISIS terrorism. But as he participated in outreaches to refugee camps near the Syrian border, a glaring mystery began to present itself. Christians were nowhere to be found. It was as if they had simply vanished. 

Five years ago, before the war in Syria began, over 10% of the country’s population of 26 million identified themselves as Christ followers. That's over 2.6 million Christians. Gabriel had yet to meet a single one. “So where did they all go?" he began asking himself.

Using his contact network, Gabriel was allowed access inside Syria to explore the war-torn area. What he found was shocking. Many followers of Jesus had fled their homes for safer regions outside of Damascus. When asked why they had not attempted to leave the country with other refugees, they gave an interesting explanation. The refugee camps in bordering countries are controlled by Muslims. As a minority group, believers are surrounded by the Islamic faith, a religion dead set on preventing Christians from freely worshiping.  

So although ISIS presses in on every side, many Syrian Christians decided to band together and stay. On his first trip inside, Gabriel identified an area filled with over 1,000 impoverished families, most of whom had left all they owned as they fled their homes for safety. They found shelter in small rooms, cramming up to 10 people in a single tiny living space. Food and other essential resources were scarce and some of the displaced families even resorted to searching through the trash for their next meal.

During that first fateful trip, a mission of hope was born for Gabriel. Risking the continual dangers of being in a war zone, our brave partner now makes the journey inside Syria each month to offer life-sustaining food, essential living supplies, discipleship, and the message that the church around the world remembers their plight.

Recently, Gabriel sent an update from his latest mission where he met Victor and Asil. This precious elderly couple was captured by ISIS before they could escape their city. Victor was tortured three different times in an attempt to make him recant his faith in Jesus. Asil was beaten so badly that she lost most of her mobility and was forced to remain in bed. Miraculously, the two were spared from death but were thrown out of their home without any of their possessions. With the last of their strength they made the long journey to Damascus where they hoped to find safety. 

Gabriel's timely arrival provided much-needed aid in the midst of overwhelming sorrow and poverty. His visit also awakened something all but forgotten by Victor and Asil ... hope!

What Can We Do?

Resources are very limited for Gabriel and he needs our help in providing support for the families he visits each month. This is an invitation to be a part of one of the greatest rescue stories of our time. 

$25 provides a week of emergency food aid for a Christian family. 

$100 helps pay rent to shelter a family left homeless by persecution.

$1,000 purchases forty survival packs for families who’ve lost everything.

Would you prayerfully consider giving toward this incredible outreach? In a country that threatens to be overthrown by darkness, we can ensure the Syrian persecuted church remains a growing light.

 

Infiltrating A Modern Day Slave Camp (A Secret Mission To Set North Koreans Free)

Jonas couldn’t believe what was happening. For years he had been covertly entering hard labor work sites in remote unnamed locations where modern day slaves were “employed." The slaves had been sent by North Korea as part of a corrupt government program. His mission was to bring food, medicine, and the message of the Gospel to the men who lived with little or no hope. Jonas had been careful to steer clear of the leaders of the slave rings who viciously protected their assets from outside influence, but something had drastically changed. 

The very leaders Jonas had done his best to avoid had discovered him while he was ministered to some of the workers. He expected violence, but instead they had welcomed him into a brand new work site that was not on Jonas’ map.  The undercover evangelist suddenly found himself face to face with 30 new workers, all in need of the resources and message he carried.

The men working the sites had signed up for the North Korean government program with the promise of earning money for their hungry families. Instead of honest work with decent wages, they arrived in a foreign land where they were kept restricted to their remote locations, working painstaking hours with little to eat and inadequate shelter. Worse still, up to 80% of what they earned was kept by the North Korean government, leaving them little on which to survive. 

The leaders in charge of the hard labor work sites are North Korean, official guards sent to prevent the men from leaving as well as keep outsiders away. The horrific conditions left many of the workforce sick and hungry from the lack of food. Jonas had chosen to infiltrate a camp guarded by a sympathetic official who recognized the opportunity to provide for those he oversaw. 

Through God’s divine orchestration and your support, Jonas was allowed to openly offer survival packs he had prepared for each worker under the care of the guard. The packs contain food, medicine, basic living supplies and, best of all, disguised Korean literature that contained the message of the Gospel. 

Please continue to keep Jonas and his secret ministry in your prayers. He needs more opportunities like this one for the numerous work sites he has located. Pray that each survival pack and each conversation will plant a seed in the hearts of the workers. May the hope of Jesus Christ truly set these men free. 

Ready to involved? Check out some great opportunities below.

 

The Church Refuge (Hope for families fleeing ISIS)

As militants stormed their small Syrian city, Bahira and her family did the only thing they could...flee. Finding refuge outside of Damascus, the hurting family took up shelter in an unfinished building with a simple roof over their heads. There were no walls, no electricity, and no water. It was a shack by all definition, but at least for the time begin, they were safe from ISIS.

Bahira's husband, Kareef, grew sick and was unable to look for work to support his family. She did all she could, but jobs for hurting refugees were scarce with the influx of so many displaced people. Many days, her children (ages 5, 8, and 15) were forced to beg on the streets to pay for food. If poverty weren't threat enough, winter arrived strongly in the region. 

But all was not lost. Bahira learned of a church nearby that was helping refugees. Pastor Sami is a partner with Alpha Relief doing everything in his power to offer hope to hurting Christian families, as well as Muslim families in desperate need of the love of Christ.  

Because of your support, this family, and many others, now receive monthly food aid. In gratitude, Bahira comes to the church faithfully and offers to help wherever she might be needed. Risking a great deal, she recently told the pastor, "You are better than my own Muslim people, for you stood by us in our hour of need." (This is said often by war refugees in Syria because Muslims are taught from childhood that Christians are their enemies. They are amazed that their enemies are so kind to them.)

What an incredible opportunity to show the beauty and light of Jesus Christ! Although hundreds of families near Sami’s church have endured incredible pain and suffering at the hands of ISIS, they have not been forgotten. The LORD is an ever present help in their time of trouble. Bahira knows this first hand.

Thank you for joining Jesus’ rescue story in the lives of these precious people!!

Ready to get involved? You will find some great opportunities below.

 

Illegal Communication (Jesus’s Kingdom Spreads Inside the Hermit Kingdom)

With the advancements of communication, it’s mind boggling that a country like North Korea can control the spread of information and remain a mystery. It’s rare to get an unadulterated peak behind the curtain that surrounds North Korea, and even more rare for it’s people to hear truth from the outside world.

Communication may be extremely difficult to pass across the closed borders, but not entirely impossible. Alpha Relief has the rare privilege of supporting Mrs. Kim, a very special undercover agent for the Gospel. Mrs. Kim secretly brings life saving food and spiritual discipleship to an underground church network inside North Korea. Although food aid is vitally important for the malnourished people, it is often the news she brings from the outside world that her network is just as hungry for. 

We cherish the news from Mrs. Kim’s trip reports just as well. She is one of our only direct links to our oppressed brothers and sisters in Christ. “The situation in North Korea continues to be very difficult” she recently described. “One hundred people have been arrested for anti-government charges.” These “anti-government” charges include severe punishment for Christians who are seen as traitors to the country for worshiping anything other then the dictator. Thankfully none in Mrs. Kim’s network were among those harmed or imprisoned.  

The communication North Koreans do receive is full of governmental propaganda, always ensuring the people that they are being provided heavenly living conditions despite the horrific poverty many of its citizens experience. Though most know this propaganda is a lie, they would never say so out-loud, as the penalty would be a labor camp sentence.

In the midst of this darkness, Mrs. Kim has earned the reputation for offering hope. The precious believers in her network call her “The Kingdom of Heaven Auntie”.  Her message is spreading, and despite the risk, Mrs. Kim makes herself available to those who are seeking to know more about the Gospel. Recently a woman named Lilly met with her to ask if there really was a “Kingdom of Heaven?”  She had heard the government boast of “paradise on earth”, but with so little physical evidence, it had become just a phrase without any substance. Mrs. Kim told the story of Jesus’ kingdom, and though it didn’t always promise physical relief, it did promise peace and joy, no matter the external circumstances.  

Through your support, Mrs. Kim has the resources to reach over 200 underground church families inside North Korea as well as those like Lilly who desire the truth of Christ’s kingdom. Please continue to pray for her incredible mission and those she serves. May the true kingdom advance ever further! 

Interested in helping her next cross-border mission? You’ll find some great ways to get involved below.