COVID-19 affects AMG’s nursing school in Uganda

Uganda (MNN) — As it has all over the world, COVID-19 continues to affect Uganda and AMG International’s ministry within the country, including their nursing school.

Pandemic Impact

AMG’s Bill Passons explains how the pandemic is impacting the country at large.

“The main thing that’s having the biggest effect I think, like most places, is the lockdowns that have been put in place to try to limit the spread of the virus,” he says. “With all of the schools being total lockdown, they’ve been out for almost four months now, and the churches not being allowed to meet is having a pretty bad effect. A lot of businesses are either totally out of business or operating very scaled-down nature, so it is kind of a desperate situation.”

Passons also says that lockdown affects people differently depending on where they live.

(Photo courtesy of AMG International)

“Those that are in a very rural context actually are a little bit better off when it comes to basic daily needs,” he explains. “They ..

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How does eLearning change during a pandemic?

International (MNN) — Around the world, education programs have had to shift online due to coronavirus-related restrictions. Teachers and students traded classrooms and in-person lectures for video calls and email threads.

The Program for Theological Education by Extension (PTEE) was no different. At first, it seems like they should have an advantage. After all, they’ve been holding eLearning courses for three years now, and most of their students do their studying at home.

Most, but not all. A crucial part of PTEE’s system relies on face-to-face discussions. Students do their learning at home, then bring questions and conversation into group sessions in person. Thanks to COVID-19, they’ve now moved even these discussions into a digital environment.

But rather than hinder their work, the pandemic has actually caused increased interest in PTEE’s programming. Because of their experience in online learning, they’re well-equipped for the transition.

“Typically, most of our classes… hav..

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Summer camp in refugee camps? Yes, and it’s out of a truck.

Lebanon (MNN) — Normally, summer means camp for many kids. Be it Vacation Bible School, band camp, or youth programs, kids dive into learning and games under the watchful eye of exhausted but patient camp counselors.

Then, COVID-19 put the kibosh on those plans for 2020. This summer, rather than hurling water balloons or staying up late in cabins, kids are mostly stuck at home.

But what if your home is countries away and ravaged by war? What if “camp” means a refugee camp, and summer programs are your only escape from a repetitive and impoverished lifestyle?

That’s the case for many kids in camps where Heart for Lebanon works. Thanks to coronavirus-induced restrictions, they can’t provide traditional summer programming and the escapism it offers. Instead, they’ve resorted to digital programs and minimal contact.

The programs are still effective, says Heart for Lebanon’s Tom Atema. “We know that because of the response we’re getting not only from the children and their parents, but ..

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A Bible for the Deaf in Japan

Japan (MNN) — For about 300,000 Japanese people, there is still no Bible in their heart language. Deaf Japanese are spiritually isolated in addition to feeling culturally separated from hearing friends and family.

Japanese Sign Language (JSL) is very different from written and spoken Japanese. Yet, the Bible is currently only available in written formats. That makes Christianity feel inaccessible to many. For Deaf in the country, Scripture is simply in a language with which they struggle to connect.

Wycliffe Bible Translators is working to change that. Through partnerships with local Bible translators, they hope to bring a full video Bible to the Japanese Deaf.

The Translation Team
Andy Keener with Wycliffe USA provides some background on the team. “The Japanese sign language project has been going on since 1993. So, this has been a long time coming. The team has been rather small. Today it consists of nine people and they’ve completed 33% of the entire Bible. And this past year, th..

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Asian Access overcomes pandemic restrictions, launches new programs

South Asia (MNN) — So far, 2020 has been a memorable year for all the wrong reasons. Global events like the COVID-19 pandemic create an unpredictable atmosphere for ministry. More coronavirus coverage here.

But Joe Handley of Asian Access says there’s a bright spot amidst the chaos.

Asian Access equips national church leaders to multiply churches and make disciples. “We had been planning for several years to do a digital media initiative to equip younger generations, as well as where the persecuted Church lies” in South Asia, Handley explains.

“It just so happened that the pandemic opened that door for us to invest heavily in digital technology.”

(Graphic courtesy of Asian Access)

Through a new digital approach, Asian Access is opening work in two new countries this summer. While he cannot name one country for security reasons, Handley says, “the leaders we’ve been talking to in Thailand for several years are very interested in this idea.”

COVID-19 can’t stop Gospel growth

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Egypt and Turkey threaten war in Libya

Libya (MNN) — Christians in Libya, Egypt, and Turkey are caught in the middle of a broiling conflict.

Hostilities between Egypt and Turkey over oil-rich territory in Libya have ramped up in recent weeks. Many fear the standoff could break out into a full-blown war.

War rarely sees true winners, and a potential conflict between these two similarly-sized militaries would likely end poorly for both sides. The biggest loser, of course, would be Libya.

Greg Musselman of Voice of the Martyrs Canada explains the situation for Christians. “What’s happening is you’ve got the Christians in Libya, who have no religious freedom. They’re always in danger and underground. You have the Turkish Christians and the Egyptian Christians in those countries. So both Islamic countries, Turkey and Egypt, they’re coming at each other in Libya and fighting for control of that area, which of course is very strategic. The Christians are getting caught in the middle of all this.”

(Image by Peggy und Marco Lach..

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SKILD supports kids with learning differences during COVID-19

Lebanon (MNN) — In a country tormented by COVID-19, corruption, and financial crisis, SKILD continues to advocate for kids with learning differences.

COVID-19 has shut down schools around the world, and kids with learning differences in Lebanon need extra support.

Hiba Al-Jamal explains the LSESD program helps a lot of different students, both at public and private schools. As COVID-19 has prevented in-person work, SKILD has moved online. “That means whoever is able to do the online session, we continued with them online. That doesn’t cover all the population that we work with, just those who are able in different aspects: financially, internet wise, location-wise, and in terms of their needs.”

A SKILD summer camp picture from 2018. (Photo courtesy of LSESD on Facebook)

It’s a big shift for SKILD, since workers do a lot of one-on-one work with students. Al-Jamal says, “With the online thing, you are far away from the students, so you need the parent’s involvement with you. Whenever..

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Want to end child marriage? Here are 3 ways to help

International (MNN) — Kids around the world are susceptible to child marriage, and their vulnerability stems from multiple factors. David Lovett of Operation Mobilization USA outlines a few in the report below.

“It’s illegal; it’s not supposed to be happening,” Lovett says. “But still, it is a rampant issue across South Asia, the Middle East, and that part of the world.”

OM USA partners globally with churches and NGOs to prevent child marriage, rescue at-risk children, and give kids a different future – one rooted in Christ’s love and hope. Here’s how you can help.

Risk factors
Circumstances vary by culture and region, but poverty underlies many parents’ decisions to support child marriage. “People are just so poor. You’re looking at how you can have less of an economic burden,” Lovett describes. Without education or a way to financially contribute to their parents’ household, girls and young women lack viable options.

“They’re stuck in this position that their future is only in ge..

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Uganda opens its border to refugees

Uganda (MNN) — AMG International continues to share the love of Jesus during Uganda’s COVID-19 lockdown.

Uganda has temporarily opened its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo as the latter country has suffered deadly ethnic violence. When borders closed in March due to COVID-19, an estimated 10,000 people were stuck in no man’s land between the countries.

Bill Passons of AMG International says it’s a delicate balance. Thousands of Ugandans were trapped outside the country and Uganda wants to let them back in. “They’re trying to take some of the things that they’ve learned, testing and just being more strict [to help with this situation]. But, anytime that you open and thousands and thousands of people are coming in, it increases risk dramatically.”

This is 14-year-old Baker, one of the kids that AMG International works with. (Photo courtesy of AMG International)

Uganda has managed COVID-19 remarkably well, with only 870 confirmed cases and no reported deaths. The country h..

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People seek hope, answers as Lebanon crumbles

Lebanon (MNN) — People in Lebanon are using Facebook Groups to barter for the goods they need following the currency’s latest plunge. Desperation remains at an all-time high; Lebanon faces its worst economic crisis since the 15-year civil war. More Lebanon headlines here.

As Pierre Houssney of Horizons International explains, it’s a multi-layered catastrophe.

First, “There was a civil war that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese people. And then, the corruption; all the ‘under the table’ dealings,” Houssney describes.

“When the political protests happened, that caused the economy to collapse to a great degree. And now, COVID has taken an economy that was on its knees and laid it flat on its back.”

Speaking hope to Lebanon
People need hope and answers to life’s biggest questions, and they’re not finding it in government. “We’re just getting tens of thousands of questions coming in” through social media, Houssney says.

While meeting neighbors’ spiritual needs is firs..

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