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Posts Tagged ‘Operation World’

1 Missionaries, as such, are not welcome in China. Yet China’s desire to improve trading relations with the world makes it possible for many Chinese and foreign Christians to enter as:

a) Tourists — over 30m visited China in 1995 and spent $US9 billion. Many Christians were among them. Pray for their ministry of bringing literature, aid, comfort and, in some cases, teaching. Pray also for safety for them and their baggage, tact and wisdom in their contacts, and guidance for travel.

b) Students — usually for language or cultural studies in various universities. In 2000 there were over 10,000 from 120 countries. Living conditions are often spartan and uncensored friendships with Chinese hard to maintain. Pray for Christians among them to be used of God to share Christ with those who are genuinely seeking the Lord.

c) Foreign experts and businessmen. China aims to recruit about 30,000 experts annually to teach English, Japanese and German as well as other subjects, and also to build up China’s technology and industry. Pray that many may be radiant Christians able to impart their faith while on the job.

d) Chinese family members who visit their ancestral homes. These have flocked to China in their millions. Christians among them have sometimes seen astonishing results when staying with relatives.

2 Provision of Bibles is still inadequate, despite the large increase in the number of copies available. By 1999 it was reckoned that there were 36m Bibles in China. The famine of the Scriptures is most acute in provinces far from the 60 legal distribution points and for the house churches. Amity Foundation, founded in 1986 and sponsored by the TSPM and the UBS, set up a large printing operation in China, and over 22m Bibles and New Testaments had been printed by 1999 — nearly all going to TSPM congregations. House churches have now commenced their own Bible printing presses. A further 12m Bibles and NTs are estimated to have been brought in by visitors. Pray that this flow might increase and that Christians might have access to a copy of God’s Word. There is a great need for study and children’s Bibles. Importation of Bibles is not illegal but prevented for ideological reasons. The Bible League and OD are two of the largest suppliers of Bibles to the house churches.

3 Video and audio tapes. The increasing availability of play-back machines is making foreign-produced Scripture, song, evangelism and teaching tapes a useful means for disseminating the Truth. Pray for all involved in preparing and distributing these tapes.

a) The JESUS film is being widely seen on home video in 20 completed language versions (including eight Chinese dialects, Mongolian, Uygur and Zhuang). Many other language editions are in production or planned. Pray that the film may receive official recognition for public showing.

b) Teaching tapes that deal with the moral and ethical devastation left by Marxist thought and provide solid biblical teaching are a great need to help the many intellectuals who are coming to faith. Pray for the production of reading materials and tapes to fill this need.

c) GRN has produced gospel messages or tapes in 160 languages and dialects; much being done during 1999, but recordings are needed in many more.

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OPERATION WORLD: China – The Church

The unregistered or house church networks are the heart of the true Church in China. Intense persecution has indigenized and purified it. Prayer, revival, simple living and a christocentric theology characterize it. Twenty or more larger networks are known to exist, but their numbers are a matter of conjecture. Reasonable estimates range between 30 and 80 million, or 50% to 80% of the total Christian population. There are many challenges to pray over:

 

a)      Persecution is a present reality. Increasing pressure since 1989 is a measure of the fear of the Communists of such a large movement they do not control. Their aim is subjugation or elimination of this threat. Since 1996 the level of persecution has increased on house churches not willing to register with the TSPM. Arrests (hundreds in 1999), heavy fines, forcible closures and destruction of church buildings (200 in 1997) have increased in some key areas. Pray for the continued commitment of believers to preach Christ and Him crucified whatever the cost and without compromise.

 

b)      Ongoing evangelistic outreach. Witnessing Christians and itinerant preachers, though violently opposed by the authorities, have spread far and wide, but many provinces, districts and towns are still unreached. Pray that Christians may continue to be bold for Jesus and implement their missionary strategy for reaching China.

 

c)       Challenges to face:

i) Isolation and lack of teaching can lead to extremes in legalism, theological emphases and use of spiritual gifts.

ii) How to handle increased contacts and communications with evangelical Christians around the world — finance is a major component for good and bad. The new quarterly magazine Voice of China is compiled by leaders of house church networks for distribution worldwide.

iii) How to make what has long been a strong rural movement impact those who are urban and intellectuals. The lack of formal education of many leaders, many of which are women, hampers this. Pray that more men may be converted and that an impact for God might be made on the cities. The authorities are better able to control and restrict any Christian activity in cities, so house churches tend to be smaller and more secretive.

 

d)      The intellectual elite is largely urban. Only since 1989 have large numbers of students and professionals come to Christ, yet the proportion that believe is far lower than in the rural areas. Networks of small, often secret, groups have emerged. Pray for the multiplication of such, for this is of inestimable importance for the future of the gospel in China.

 

e)      Leadership for the churches. The widespread lack of Bibles, teaching materials and Bible-literate leaders has stimulated many innovative discipleship ministries in different house church networks during the 1990s. Pray for many godly men and women to be raised up.

 

f)       The multiplication of heretical sects and doctrinal extremist groups. The lack of Bible knowledge and of mature leadership has opened the way for many exotic messianic, syncretistic and divisive groups, some of which have spread over much of China. In some areas they now constitute 5% or more of the unregistered church population. Many have exotic names such as Lightning in the East, Lingling, Shouters, Established King, Cold Water, etc. Pray that this growth might be slowed by the loving proclamation of the truth of God’s Word through radio, literature and preaching.

 

g)      Spiritual unity has been furthered by recent persecution. Leaders of various house church networks are increasingly standing together in both affirming their common biblical faith and making public statements to the authorities. Pray for continued development of trust and fellowship between different house church networks and between Bible-believing leaders of the house churches and the TSPM.

 

h)      Missions vision. Some house church networks have long cherished and supported missions outreach to other provinces and to ethnic minorities. There is growing vision for foreign missions and some Mainland Chinese have become missionaries in other lands. Some predict China could become the greatest sending nation in the 21st Century!

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About 7% of Chinas population is Christian today, but their distribution is not even. In this section are given some of the nationally significant but less evangelized sections of the population.

1 The nearly 60 million Communist Party members are, by definition, atheists, but ideology is a facade to cover self-seeking opportunism. Disillusionment and defection to Christianity has led to many resignations. Pray that the Holy Spirit may convict many more of their sin and need. Among them are also many secret believers.

 

2 The armed forces, who are the protectors of the Marxist state, and who jealously guard their privileged position and network of industries. There are 2.8m in uniform, but very few Christians among them.

 

3 The ‘lost generation’, the young people mobilized as the Cultural Revolution Red Guards. The millions involved were morally warped and exploited, losing their youth, education prospects and hopes of betterment in the madness of those years. Pray that they may find hope in Christ.

 

4 Those still bound by the idolatrous superstitions of Daoism, Buddhism and the legalism of Confucianism. These customs and philosophies are being revived, but young people are not so attracted to them. A new religion, Falun Gong, gained world publicity and shocked the authorities in 1999 with a quiet protest in Beijing — they claim 70m followers in China. Pray for the millions still bound and needing the freedom only the gospel can give.

 

5 Children and young people under 18 number over 500m. It is illegal to teach them religious ‘superstitions’. The TSPM churches are not allowed to run Sunday Schools or youth groups — most have forgotten how or are afraid to minister to children and young people, but some are quietly doing more to disciple them. One of the great needs of China today is for teaching materials and the know-how of Christian ministry to this group.

 

6 University students (3m) are the key for the future. The shock of the events of 1989 have brought many to Christ, but most students are still unreached. Pray for:

a) Christians among them to be built up in their faith and to be fervent witnesses.

b) The establishment of Bible study groups on every one of the 1,054 campuses.

c) Those who study abroad. About 100,000 go overseas annually for study, but only about 25% return. Most go to Japan, USA, Europe and Australia. Their numbers in 1996 globally were 600,000. Among them is an unprecedented openness and a good proportion have come to the Lord.

 

7 Muslims number 25m, and are almost entirely linked to specific ethnic groups — the indigenous Uygur, Kazak, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Tatar of Xinjiang, the Salar of Qinghai, Dongxiang of Gansu and the Chinese Hui of Ningxia and scattered all over China. (See under the provinces below.) Islam is a sensitive issue in China because of a past history of Hui revolts and unrest in Xinjiang. Few ministries are targeting the Muslim peoples, and few Chinese believers feel adequately prepared for such outreach. Pray for the evangelization of these peoples and for the calling of committed workers to them.

 

8 Ethnic Minorities comprise 8.7% of the population, 100m people in 464 distinct non-Han ethno-linguistic groups.

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2 Leadership training is woefully deficient, and a crisis need. It is reckoned that there is but one ordained pastor for every 7,000 TSPM members. By 1999 there were 18 official seminaries with 1,200 residential and 3,000 distance-learning students. Pray for:

 

a)  Faculty — often selected for their political correctness rather than for their walk with God. Pray for those teaching who are Evangelical despite the prevailing liberal theology and textbooks. Pray that biblical teaching and holiness of life might be central in their lives. In 2000 the anti-Evangelical stance was strengthened.

 

b)  Students. Many apply, but few are selected; nevertheless most are Evangelical but face a constant battle against the erosion of their faith. The number of students and ordinations has been deliberately restricted, but during 1999 a considerable expansion in facilities and enrolment was reported. Only 800 pastors were ordained 1992-95, and most of these were over 45 years of age.

 

c)   Protection from interference. During 1999 a severe purge of evangelical faculty, textbooks and students was carried out at the national seminary in Nanjing. Support from congregations for Nanjing, the five regional and 12 provincial seminaries is very low because of the political manipulation. Libraries are usually poorly stocked.

 

3 The Catholics were divided when the Marxists set up the Catholic Patriotic Association in 1957 with its own structure and hierarchy independent of the Vatican. The majority of Catholics demurred and went ‘underground’, with their own bishops and illegal seminaries. The loyalist Catholics have suffered severe persecution because of their commitment to a foreign leader. More recently there has been a growing rapprochement between the two. There are over 12m Catholics in the two bodies, and over 60,000 are converted annually. Many Catholics are charismatic and ardent in their faith.

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1 The Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) was instituted by ‘patriotic’ and often theologically liberal Christians with the strong encouragement of the Communist Party as the interface between the government and Church. After 13 years of oblivion it was reconstituted in 1979 to wrest the initiative from the burgeoning house church movement, and enable the government to control and manipulate the Church. The China Christian Council is the governing body for all official church-related activities. Pray for:

a) The neutralization of all measures to impose unbiblical doctrines on the churches, limit evangelism, and force conformity to the dictates of the atheist government. Pray also for an end to the enforced compromises in the state-controlled TSPM-related churches.

b) Leaders who have compromised the faith and bowed to government pressure. The restrictions laid down are: no childrens’ or youth work, avoid preaching on the Lord’s return and on creation, a ban on healing or exorcism, and limited evangelism. Praise God for many who quietly ignore the rules of men.

c) The continued growth of the registered churches. Many godly leaders quietly continue to serve the Lord in TSPM churches. The growth in congregations and members is downplayed by the authorities but is dramatic. There were 1,000 open church buildings in 1983; 7,000 churches and 20,000 official meeting points in 1988, becoming 13,000 and 35,000, respectively, by 1997. Six churches a day are being registered. There are estimated to be 500,000 baptisms in the TSPM churches every year, and adult membership in 1997 was estimated at 17 million.

d) Relationships between the TSPM churches and house churches. Most house churches regard with distaste government manipulation and control and see separation as fundamental to the survival of a spiritual Church. Some house church leaders reject all contact, others have succumbed to the increased pressures and outright persecution since 1989 to register. In 1995, an estimated 30% of Protestant Christians were linked with TSPM churches. This has probably risen to 40% in 2000. Increasingly there is overlap with many attending and ministering in both. There is also a steady drift away to house churches by new converts disillusioned with the level of compromise.

e) The future of the TSPM. Growth, despite its major flaws and weaknesses, has been astonishing. This is likely to slow as the TSPM leadership becomes entrenched in bureaucratic, corrupt ways and fails to address either the spiritual needs of ordinary Christians or the serious social problems of China. The result is likely to be fragmentation, regionalization, renewed denominationalism and massive defections to house church networks. Pray for revival and renewal to purify the TSPM and its associated churches.

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1 The Christian Church has become marginalized in Canadian society. Many major historic denominations have suffered disastrous declines in membership. The loss of biblical roots, lack of vision for evangelism, and compromise on ethical issues have all contributed to this tragic situation. The church has allowed pluralism and secularization to undermine its foundations. Canada needs revival.

2 Evangelical witness has generally declined through the 20th Century.

a) Evangelicals represented 25% of the population in 1900, but less than 8% in 1989; this had risen, however, to 10.8% by 2000. While evangelical and charismatic denominations were the fastest growing religious groups in Canada in the 1980s and ‘90s, the decline of the historic denominations more than offset this growth.

b) Canadian Evangelicals are working together more effectively than in earlier years but are still too fragmented. Pray for effective cooperation for the Kingdom.

c) There are positive signs. The newer evangelical groups are growing, using new structures and styles. The controversial ‘Toronto Blessing’ nevertheless stimulated much-needed renewal for many. Pray that evangelical Christians would further unite and make a decisive impact on this spiritually needy land.

3 Vision Canada, nurtured under the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, was launched by 40 denominations and agencies. The purpose: to serve the Body of Christ in evangelism so that every person in Canada will have the opportunity to see, hear and respond to the gospel by the year 2000. A formal goal of planting 10,000 new churches by 2015 was affirmed by leaders of 39 denominations in 1997. Since 1998 there has been a marked improvement in church planting activity in a wide array of denominational groups. Pray that this advance may be achieved.

4 The large number of Bible institutes, colleges and theological seminaries committed to a Biblical view of Scripture are fulfilling a major role in strengthening evangelical witness. They are mostly concentrated in the western Prairie provinces, and many are experiencing renewal and growth. Pray for the students and their teachers, that missions may be a central issue in their education.

5 French Canadians are 85% Catholic in culture, but a decreasing number of them (25%) ever attend mass. Pray for spiritual life and renewal in Catholic institutions and congregations, as Quebec has experienced four consecutive decades of secularization. Evangelicals are less than 1% of the Francophone population of the province, but have grown well from 1970-88 but more slowly to 2000. Pray for:

a) Increased receptivity amidst growing social and political change and instability. Evangelism is yielding less fruit than in the period 1975-85. For Vision Canada to be achieved, 2,300 Francophone congregations would need to be started in Quebec.

b) Quebec separatism, which is a potent political movement with unknown implications for Canada’s future. Pray that the uncertainty of this may stimulate maturity and growth in the churches.

c) The small, but growing, French-speaking Protestant missionary force.

d) The growing prayer movement in Quebec that is bringing together believers from many denominations.

e) Continued growth in fruitful fellowship between denominations — there has been marked improvement since 1997.

6 Canadian indigenous peoples are largely Christian in name, but active evangelistic churches among them are desperately few. There are 2,400 reservations without an ongoing evangelical witness. (Dongsan has a team going to them – KH)

a) Pray for a moving of God’s Spirit to overcome the shameful treatment of these people by whites in the past. The government has finally admitted the dismal failure of its policies towards indigenous peoples in the last 150 years. The church is assuming an increasing role in this reconciliation, but court cases against churches are rising over involvement in residential schools earlier in the 20th Century. Only the grace of God can enable the indigenous people to receive Christ despite serious economic and social problems, and strident anti-white, anti-Christian propaganda that draws many back into old animistic customs.

b) Pray for the growth of strong, well-led churches that are culturally appropriate. Especially pray for the development of indigenous leadership. There are many encouraging signs of growth and renewal in the native evangelical community, where a contextualized church is beginning to flourish.

c) Pray for missions seeking to evangelize and plant churches — often in the inhospitable northern parts of the country. Both denominational (Native Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, CMA, PAOC) and mission agencies, united as Inter-Mission Cooperative Outreach, are dedicated to this. Indigenous missions movements to evangelize their own are also developing.

d) Bible translation or revision is still needed. Revisions or translations are required in several of the 25 actively used languages. Five new translations of the New Testament or Bible have been completed in the last few years, leaving 12 works currently in progress. Pray for the translators with SIL and other groups. There are also an increasing number of Christian radio and TV programmes aimed at aboriginals.

e) The hundreds of thousands of native Canadian Indians living outside reservations are neglected and spiritually needy, especially in the cities, where poverty and substance abuse continues to afflict them.

7 The Inuit (Eskimo) in the Arctic are mostly Anglican in name, but the impact of the worst of Western civilization has greatly altered and harmed the Eskimo way of life. The suicide rate is four times the national average. The recent establishing of a new Inuit Territory, Nunavut, has given autonomy and hope to the local people. Likewise, since 1982, there has been evidence that the Holy Spirit is stirring, by waves of conversions and awakenings from nominalism. Helpful is the fact that the church is still often the centre of the community in these isolated northern towns. Pray that the new-found autonomy of the Inuit people would be made complete by finding freedom in Christ.

8 Immigrant communities have multiplied. Toronto claims to be the world’s most racially diverse city. Vancouver is the world’s second-largest Sikh city. Especially significant are:

a) Asian Indians (numbering 715,000) — 220,000 Sikhs (less than 0.1% Christian), 250,000 Hindus and 190,000 Muslims form the biggest bloc of unreached peoples in the country. OM and IT have teams ministering to them in Vancouver and Toronto.

b) Arabic-speaking peoples, mostly Muslim or Orthodox Christian; very little specific outreach to them has been undertaken. Most of the few believers are Lebanese or Palestinian.

c) The Southern and Eastern European communities with few evangelical churches.

d) The Chinese (930,000) who will soon number a million people with the steady influx of immigrants. There are over 100 growing churches among them in several cities. While growth is not a problem, assimilation and second-generation withdrawal from the church is. Pray also that Chinese churches would integrate well into the larger body of Christ in Canada.

9 Missionary vision has been great in the past, but the number of missionaries declined by 15% between 1992 and 1999. Giving to national missionaries and relief and development programmes, however, has increased in recent years. Pray for increased involvement by churches and individuals in the evangelization of the unreached in Canada and around the world. Pray for increased missionary concern in the many growing evangelical churches among the ethnic minorities; such a vision is vital for Canada, and could be strategic for the evangelization of their lands of origin. Pray also for the unifying and strategic work of the Task Force for Global Mission of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

10 Specialized ministries for prayer:

a) Christian media. There are a number of widely appreciated religious programmes on secular radio and TV networks, particularly Crossroads and It’s a New Day. US Christian programmes continue to be larger in number, but the Canadian government has now allowed Vision TV, an interfaith network, to carry more programming.

b) Student ministries in the 272 colleges and universities. These give wide exposure to sections of the campus community. There are three movements linked with IVCF(IFES — English), GBU (French) and Ambassadors for Christ (Chinese). There are also extensive ministries linked with Navigators and CCCI. YFC and OAC have good ministries in high schools. Pray that these and other ministries may make a deep and lasting impact on nearly 1 million tertiary students.

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Cambodia

1 The terrible genocide of 1975-79 in which nearly 2 million were killed has left deep physical and emotional scars. There are over 30,000 who have lost limbs to landmines, and almost the entire population needs deep healing from the trauma of their losses and suffering. Pray for:

a) Justice to be seen to be done regarding those who perpetrated the crimes. The Khmer Rouge have so far shown little remorse.

b) Those seeking to remove mines and restore the country to a decent living standard. Many Christian NGOs are involved.

c) Those caring for the maimed, the orphans, widows, and now AIDS victims.

d) A government that seeks the good of all, and is worthy of the trust of the people. Violence, manipulation, graft and selfishness hitherto have been the rule.

2 The spiritual darkness of Cambodia must be lifted by prayer. That darkness is shown by the ubiquitous spirit shrines, the strong opposition of Buddhism to any ideological rival and the moral collapse. The sex industry thrives, but a third of all prostitutes (an estimated 50,000) are children. Cambodia has the highest rate of child abandonment in SE Asia. HIV is spreading rapidly with 180,000 known to be infected in 1999 and 3,500 children born with HIV each year. Pray for the light of the gospel to so shine that the structures of society as well as individuals may be decisively changed.

3 The Cambodian Church has survived against all odds. Beginning in 1923, CMA missionaries laboured for 47 years before the breakthrough began. There were only 700 believers in evangelical churches in 1970, but by 1975 this had grown to 9-12,000. Only 2,000 survived the slaughter — many fled to Thai refugee camps where a great harvest was reaped for the Kingdom. During the 1990s churches spread to all 19 provinces. Pray for:

a) Freedom from government manipulation and interference, and wisdom in how to relate to the authorities.

b) Freedom and deep deliverance from past sin, hatred, suffering and abuse through faith in the precious blood of Jesus.

c) Children and young people to be effectively discipled in the churches. Few are equipped for this, yet over half the population is under 21.

d) Many Christian families to be raised up who can live for Christ as examples of his power to save and change.

e) A vision for the lost and to take the gospel to every person.

4 Mature leadership for the churches is the greatest challenge. The loss of so many educated people in the Khmer Rouge slaughter, and the dysfunctional society pushed many new Christians quickly into leadership before they were ready. Pray for:

a) The Bible schools — The Phnom Penh Bible School and the Cambodia For Christ (CFC) Ministry Training College are two key institutions.

b) Existing pastors — in 1999 there were 755 registered as such with the government, 200 with CFC. Pray for purity, power in the Spirit, and discernment in their ministry, and for their dependence in God rather than on foreign aid.

c) Unity. Only four bodies are recognized by the government with which all denominations must register — Cambodian Christian Evangelical Alliance, Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia, Cambodian Christian Federation and the Cambodian Baptist Convention. These are increasingly working together. Pray for this to be effective and a positive impact on the country. The Cambodian Church has had many problems with divisiveness.

5 Christian ministry to physical needs is a major concern.

a) Refugees poured out of Cambodia between 1975 and 1985. About 700,000 fled to Thailand, where many came to Christ in refugee camps. Many agencies have had a remarkable ministry there (SAO, YWAM, WVI, SBC, Christian Outreach, OMF, CMA and others). Some 350,000 moved on to the USA, France, Canada and other lands, where there are now dozens of Cambodian Christian fellowships. The remaining 350,000 had returned home by 1993 to rebuild their lives. They need much help.

b) The social needs are enormous. The murder of most of those with skills or an education makes expatriate input essential. Rehabilitation, orphanages, reconstruction, health care, projects for agriculture, fisheries, water management and education are all ministries where Christians have significant input. Pray for:

i) The 30 or more Christian NGOs (World Concern, Christian Outreach, World Relief, Food for the Hungry, Harvest International Services (HIS), SAO, OMF, CMA, WVI, AoG, YWAM, Mennonites and Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor).

ii) Effective cooperation among the Christian agencies.

iii) More long-term expatriate workers who learn the language and identify with the culture. Humanitarian ministries can fail in this and encourage only short-term involvement. Missionary visas are now being granted to such agencies as OMF, AoG, WVI and CMA.

iv) Spiritual and physical health of new workers and fruitfulness in ministry.

v) This land to open fully and remain open for all needed expatriate workers — especially pioneers, church planters and Bible teachers.

6 The less reached. There is a window of opportunity for the land that must be prayerfully kept open. Pray for:

a) The Buddhist majority. Though reviving, Buddhism has lost some of its monopolistic grip on the people.

b) The Cham are almost entirely Muslim. Probably 60% are deeply involved in spirit worship. They have increased rapidly in numbers. Few are Christians and there are no churches among them.

c) The tribal peoples. Only among the Mnong have significant numbers come to Christ. There are small, but growing churches among the Tampuan, Krung, Kravet and Jarai. Pray for an adequate survey of the need, and the calling of pioneers to reach them.

7 Christian media ministries. Pray specifically for:

a) Literature. CMA missionaries have translated a range of materials, and continue to do so. There is a real need for teaching materials, for false teachings abound. The largest church, the New Apostolic Church, is sectarian. The UBS and others are providing Khmer Bibles and New Testaments. A new Khmer Bible was completed in 1998. SGM Scripture portions are widely appreciated.

b) The JESUS film is being used in Khmer, Chinese and Vietnamese. Its greatest impact was through national television.

c) Christian radio. FEBC and CCCI have been allowed to broadcast 6 hours a week on local radio — a first! Lutheran Hour has also been given a similar opportunity. FEBC also broadcast from Manila in Khmer (12 hrs/wk) as well as in Jarai and Stieng. TWR have recently begun weekly broadcasts.

d) MAF has a plane servicing Christian work.

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