International Missions Report: Lebanon and Vietnam

Nov 23, 2002 03:00 AM EST

Lebanon -- We begin today's newscast in southern Lebanon where an American missionary was murdered yesterday. Mission Network News' Ruth Bliss has more. "Initial reports indicate that a lone gunman followed 31-year old Bonnie Weatherall into the prenatal clinic where she volunteered at around 8 a.m. local time Thursday and shot her. U.S. Embassy officials are continuing their investigation into the shooting and have released little as to the motive. Police officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Weatherall, a nurse married to a Briton, had been working at the Christian clinic for a year and a half. The center provides medical care and aid to Lebanese and Palestinian refugees. Bonnie's husband, Gary, issued a statement saying, "My wife died because of her love for the church and because she loved helping the people of Sidon and Lebanon." Ruth Bliss, Mission Network News."

Vietnam -- Next, there's good news and bad news coming out of Vietnam. Jerry Kitchel, of Open Doors with Brother Andrew just returned from that communist nation. Kitchel says the bad news is persecution is increasing against Christians. "Pastors have been beaten, property has been confiscated, and in recent weeks, there have been over 350 churches in the Central Highlands that have been closed...which means 128,000 believers are without a church." Kitchel says the good news is Christians are steadfast in their faith and are hungry for God's word. He says believers exercise their faith with caution. "They have to be more on guard. (They have to be) by far, more discrete in their communication and their contacts. We need to be upholding them in prayer and just praying that the Lord will just break the strongholds of Satan and that the church will again be able to multiply their numbers without paying tremendous hardship for their faith."

Vietnam -- Vietnam has not been a country open to traditional evangelistic work. However, one agency has gone the non-traditional route with an English tutorial program. Educational Services International's Stephanie Tebow says their outreach has grown because of the natural respect the people have for teachers. "I think that our success in the classroom and our respect for the culture has given us great success because we are invited into newer environments. What takes place is that people begin to develop a certain personal respect for you as well, not just simply as an educator, but as a volunteer coming and giving of your time, and of your energy and even of your funds." Tebow says the path to Gospel is then open. "Suddenly, they recognize that you're not simply coming to evangelize, but that you come first, out of a sense of love for them, because you have first been loved. And then, suddenly, they hear with new ears, the Gospel."

And finally, Christian business leaders are needed to help spread the Gospel in countries that are closed to the Gospel. Evangelistic Commerce helps missions minded business leaders infiltrate some of these countries. EC's JP Anderson. "A lot of countries are becoming a lot more selective on who they allow in their country, using tactics that prohibit the spread of the Gospel. And so, we as a church have to look at ways that we can continue to present the Gospel to those who have not heard. How can we be a part of that redemptive solution? We happen to think that business plays a role in that." Anderson says they're hosting a special trip in January to help business leaders play a part in the Great Commission. "Business professionals will go to a country that is highly industrialized, but is very restricted. And, we will show ways that business and missions are interacting and how they can play a role."

By Albert H. Lee
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