The Danger of the Resurrected Life

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Baptisms in the US are celebratory affairs! A decision for Christ is cheered by supportive friends and church members with warm smiles and pastoral support. So, it is astounding and humbling to read the simple and profound stories of baptism from frontline leaders around the world.

Take for example the baptism of a new brother from North Korea, who came to Christ through outreach efforts in the region. Global Advance’s partner reported, “He lives on the outskirts of the city. I hid nearby and waited until 4:00 AM to make sure it was quiet so we wouldn’t be discovered. He waited for my signal, and then we quickly walked down to the frozen river. There’s a hole in the ice where they wash. I baptized him there.” They plunged into the icy water together, and there in the pre-dawn darkness, a new life in Christ was born. The chill was undoubtedly shocking, a sharp reminder of the danger of this decision if the wrong people found out. But at the same time, what a celebration it was! For “the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17b ESV).

Though an icy baptism at four in the morning may be unique in practice, it is extremely common in its urgency, careful planning, and implied risk. Frontline Leaders supported by Global Advance hide new believers in their homes, bus them to remote locations, and relocate them to new cities and countries for baptism ceremonies because of the dangers that surround this symbolic decision. What is beautiful about baptism in these areas of the world is that there is no gray area. It’s a full commitment. It is “death” to a former way of life and a former belief system. Our new brothers and sisters boldly and unreservedly enter the water in symbolism of their cleansing from sin and rise resurrected like our Savior.

But they also rise marked as targets.

Often so tragically the one who is baptized is considered dead by their family and community. Many times, their family does try to kill them. That is the danger of the resurrected life.

Your monthly support helps us rescue and relocate new believers so they can thrive in their new faith and learn how to share it with others. It also equips frontline leaders so they can continue sharing the Gospel and baptizing new believers on the front lines.

Recognizing our need for Christ on World Water Day

One of the most iconic stories in Scripture is Jesus' interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well, where Jesus set up this divine outreach to the outcast of outcasts. A woman who had failed to measure up to society's expectations met him there at this encounter centered around water, and received the invitation to drink of the Water of Life.

It's no wonder Jesus likened his Spirit to water, which is second only to the air we breathe in the immediacy of our need for it. Around the world, water is the great equalizer. March 22, 2018 is the United Nations World Water Day. From Flint, Michigan to Cape Town, South Africa, to our water well projects in Pakistan, there is a certain humbling that occurs when we recognize our common need and frailty. Unmistakably, we recognize the parallel truth of our equalizing need for Christ, his cleansing of our souls, and our daily desperation for his presence.

This is why Global Advance is tenaciously Gospel-focused in our compassion ministries through the Alpha Relief Initiative. Like in rural Pakistan, where dirty water makes kids sick. They need clean accessible water, so drilling a well and installing a hand pump is basic. But Jesus showed that thirst runs deeper, and they have been drinking from dirty spiritual water for far too long. In every village where a well is drilled we also ensure the Gospel is preached, and local missionaries are equipped to disciple new believers and plant churches. This is the tapping of a spiritual well of living water in a place it's never even rained.

Global Advance's monthly giving options makes it easy for you to give both water and the Gospel to the unreached in Pakistan:

  • $100 per month resources a local missionary in Pakistan to share the Gospel
  • $75 per month drills a well to provide clean water for an entire village
  • $50 per month provides Bibles for villagers who have responded and given their lives to Christ
 

Watch the video to learn more.

 

The Battle For Syria Has Just Begun

See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
— Isaiah 60:2 NIV

Indeed, thick darkness has cloaked Syria. Civil war opened the door to ISIS and sparked the most massive refugee crisis of our time. Bullets continue to fly as global powers fight a multi-dimensional proxy war, backing local militias with mixed allegiances. A spiritual war rages underneath it all, and the glory of God is rising on his people as they stand firm in their faith!

A few years ago, a man we've called Gabriel came forward with a vision: What if the Church stayed? What if believers in Syria held their ground and weathered whatever storms came? What if, when the smoke clears, they are there to rebuild?

With Alpha Relief's help, Gabriel has steadily supplied Christians in Syria with food and emergency supplies, Bibles, and pastoral care. They have stayed. They have banded together to care for one another. They've built community and have lived as the Church in one of the darkest places on earth.

Undaunted by the task ahead, Gabriel and this community of Christians is committed to seeing the Church flourish again in Syria. Though bombs continue to fall nearby, they have firmly declared, "Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now..." (Hebrews 10:25 NLT).

And especially now, they need your prayers and support. Join Gabriel in stretching your arms over Syria and praying for the glory of the Lord to rise.

Give today to help meet the needs of these believers and support their outreach efforts through Alpha Relief.

Persecution Rising in India

With increasing frequency and violence Christians are being attacked and jailed for their bold testimony of the Gospel in India. Each year Open Doors' World Watch List authoritatively ranks the countries in which it is most difficult to be a Christian. India has steadily risen in the ranks, falling in the #11 spot for 2018 and being categorized as a country of extreme persecution. This ranks India ahead of countries notorious for persecution such as China, Egypt, and Nigeria.

Alpha Relief was built on a legacy of going in when others rush out. It's clear that now is the time to reach India with the Gospel as the doors swing shut. The Church is growing in maturity and leaders are desperate for more training!

In response to the need, Global Advance recently sent a team to train and encourage frontline men and women in the northwestern state of Gujarat, a hotbed of Hindu extremism. Seven local pastors who were part of a core prayer team were detained by police while on their way to the conference. They were held for three weeks without charges, but were finally released. To the glory of God, 250 pastors and 1,200 women were empowered to fulfill the Great Commission during our multi-initiative events in Gujarat. 

As witnessed through these recent training initiatives, the move of God is evident in India. The December Esther Initiative conference was the largest women’s gathering of this kind in the history of this region. 95% of the attendees were the next generation of young rising leaders – now equipped, encouraged, and empowered to GO and reach the unreached with the love and hope of Jesus Christ. A team of 82 leaders has formed post-conference to meet weekly for prayer, with the goal of reaching many more from the community with the truth of Jesus Christ. In 2018, these leaders are praying to plant 12 new churches in strategic locations in North India.

Despite the rise of persecution and increasing governmental restrictions, believers are standing firm on the Word of God and the encouragement and support from fellow Christians. But they need Bibles! Global Advance estimates that every pastor attending one of our training conferences in India represents 25 people without access to the Word of God. So Alpha Relief is mounting up to provide 5,000 audio Bibles through frontline leaders in the Hindi-language areas of North India. The area suffers 70% illiteracy rates, mainly among women. Extremists intentionally target poor Christians with pressure to re-convert to Hinduism, and without a foundation in Scripture our brothers and sisters are dangerously vulnerable.

Will you help them? Your gift of $100 provides 25 Bibles for a pastor to supply and strengthen his church with God's Word.

An interview with a pioneer missionary

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Recently, Alpha Relief had the opportunity to sit down with several frontline undercover missionaries in our network. One young man, who we'll call "Joshua" to protect his identity, shared about his journey from an animist, opium-farming background, to faith in Christ and his passion to reach his village with the gospel.

 

Alpha Relief: Joshua, let's begin by learning your story. Where did you grow up?

Joshua: I am from a Lishu tribe in Shan State, Myanmar. My family was animist. About 98% of my people worship these idols, and nature. We were migrant farmers, moving around to grow opium.

 

AR: Is opium poppy a common crop?

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Shan State

Joshua: After Afghanistan, Shan State is the largest producer of opium in the world. It is a very mountainous region, with the right climate. Also, it is close to China, Thailand, and Laos which makes distribution very easy.

 

AR: How did you come to faith in Christ?

Joshua: Though my family was animist, I was sent to a Catholic boarding school for my education. There, I learned some about the Bible and Christ, but afterward I rejoined my family. Then, when I was 18 a missionary came to our village and shared the gospel. I became a Christian.

 

AR: You then attended the missionary training school which Alpha Relief supports.

 Joshua's Bible college classroom

Joshua's Bible college classroom

Joshua: Yes. I thought I wanted to be a teacher. But I prayed about what God's plan for my life was, and I realized I needed to teach my own people about Christ. So I attended the training school for four years, and then went back to my village to share the gospel.

 

AR: How is that going?

Joshua: It is difficult but also very rewarding. Most rewarding is when we have Christmas outreaches, because people are open and curious. Also, I love when people invite me into their homes and I'm able to share with them about Jesus. There are 74 families in my village, and now 15 have become Christian.

 

AR: What are the challenges?

Joshua: We need some extra funds to buy Bibles and gospel tracts and cover ministry expenses. I raise a few pigs and plant some crops to help cover my expenses. Also, there are many medical needs in the village because there is no hospital or doctor. Many people are very open to Christ when we can provide them medical care.

 

AR: Thank you, Joshua, for sharing about your passion and calling.

Joshua: Thank you to all the generous Alpha Relief supporters who enable me to preach the gospel!


Indigenous pioneer missionaries like Joshua live and work on only $70 per month. They do what they can to make ends meet, often making personal sacrifices to reach the lost around them. Click donate to support undercover missionaries and Bible distribution at the front lines of the gospel.

What is Christmas to a North Korean?

Have you ever heard of Christmas?” This question may seem alien to us, but to a North Korean migrant worker it is perfectly reasonable. And it just might be the beginning of a life-transforming faith. Some North Koreans get their first opportunity to experience the outside world by joining a migrant work program in Russia, China, or the Middle East. But life at a migrant work site is hardly an improvement: workers are strictly controlled to prevent outside contact, they toil extremely long hours, and are poorly fed. Global Advance’s Alpha Relief Initiative is empowering local believers to reach out to North Koreans in work camps with Emergency Relief Packs and the message of the Gospel. One brave believer heard of a facility where some young North Korean women are working, and began looking for ways to reach them. The only possible way in was to go undercover and get a job there. Once inside, the discoveries were shocking.

Women aged twenty to twenty-five are forced to work twelve-hour days, and if they miss production quotas they risk losing their food rations or even being beaten. They often faint from fatigue and starvation. The women are forbidden to leave the facility and are restricted from contact with other workers. They live in constant fear, and talk very little even among themselves. Pray for this believer to find a way to gain trust, an open door, and the opportunity to share the love of Christ.

Other work sites are less restrictive, and sometimes even the guards are curious or hungry enough to accept the care of our brave brothers and sisters on the front lines. The team has provided emergency medical care for injured and malnourished workers, and has gained unprecedented access to closed areas through their compassion. Many North Koreans are getting a glimpse of the true meaning of Christmas for the first time!

With your support, frontline leaders will be reaching North Koreans with hope this Christmas as they bring food, warm clothing, medicine, and other necessities to them. And, when the guards aren’t looking, a Bible can even be tucked in the bundle. These are life-saving Christmas gifts which open the door to the greatest gift of all: the Gospel.

Please consider a monthly gift of $50 to supply believers who are risking their lives to provide Emergency Relief Packs and share the truth of Christ this Christmas, and all year long.

A Hunger for More

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In the mountainous northwest of Myanmar, an expectation hung in the air as Christian leaders gathered in a simple one-room church building. The government had just launched a full assault against Rohingya villages to the south. The local church community had lost one of their own leaders in childbirth only the day before. Many had come, desperate for encouragement and hope. For years, the Alpha Relief initiative has provided relief for families devastated by the decades-long military rule and oppression in Myanmar. Shelter and education have been provided for war orphans, Bibles have been brought in for oppressed Christians, and local undercover missionaries have been trained and sent out to some of the thousands of unreached mountain villages. As Global Advance’s influence and relationships in Myanmar have grown, it has become increasingly evident that the Church needs encouragement, inspiration, and training to continue the task of completing the Great Commission. What could a few American pastors and lay-leaders do to ignite hope and encourage the Church to rise up in unity again?

“Through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we have hope…You yourselves are full of goodness and competent to instruct one another.” Romans 15:4, 14 NIV

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The Word of God is alive and active, and it does not return void. As the Word was preached the weariness and wariness began to fade. Hope ignited as our brothers and sisters were reminded of their identity in Christ, and how to walk in blameless obedience to His call. Inspiration grew as the focus was brought back to the primary task of preaching the gospel. Practical instruction on servant leadership and shepherding local churches toward unity brought renewed vision. A whispered ripple tide began to grow that this was just the kind of encouragement they needed! We were hearing feedback that this was the best conference they had experienced. The air was electric going into an evening worship service on the second day. That night broke open a hunger for the new things of God. Every single person in attendance stood to receive prayer, and then they responded in worship that continued into the night.

 Commissioned for frontline missions.

Commissioned for frontline missions.

As the time in Myanmar closed with a solemn moment of reflection on how God was challenging these leaders, the exhortation was: don’t stop hereLet the hunger for God grow and continue to draw you deeper with Him. Everyone there committed to deepening their relationship with the Father. Seasoned pastors committed to plant new churches where there was great need, and many of the leaders stood to commit to help them make it happen. Four dear brothers stepped forward for a commissioning prayer to go as missionaries to the unreached villages of Myanmar. After a joyful, closing, “Hallelujah!!”, sincere pleadings were made for Global Advance to “come back next year!”

YOUR help is needed to make that happen so that the foundation laid can be built upon, and the hope of the gospel continues to go forth in Myanmar! Through the end of 2017 your gift can be doubled by a generous matching challenge:

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!