If You Give a Tsunami Survivor a Crayon

Ministries in Sulawesi, Indonesia, engage kids in a crucial first step in trauma healing: play.

In a church in the bayside city of Palu, Indonesia, volunteers smile wide as they lead dozens of children in sing-alongs with hand motions. They pass around coloring pages with packs of crayons and colored pencils. The group sits cross-legged on the white tile floor, hands folded in their laps, to pray together.

It looks like a typical day at Sunday School—and that’s the point. Because outside of the walls of GPID Manunggal Palu, these kids’ world is a disaster zone.

A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck nearby in late September, causing a massive tsunami, aftershocks, and mudslides that killed more than 2,000 of their neighbors—including hundreds of students at a Bible camp. Their streets are unrecognizable, with crumbled buildings and buckled roads. They’ve lost homes, electricity—and normalcy.

“The kids miss their normal routine,” said Priscilla Christin, spokesperson for World Vision Indonesia. “Routines like school are especially important when children have experienced a scary event.”

Days after the earthquake, ministries rushed to provide safe spaces and trauma recovery programs specifically for kids, who often can’t process what has happened or what they’re feeling as readily as adults. “They lack both the language and life experience to understand what they’re going through,” said Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) at Wheaton College.

Relief charities like World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse have seen on the ground what researchers like Aten have concluded: Even basic care—like a safe location, kids to play with, and someone to talk to—can go a long way toward reducing …

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Ahead of 2019, Bulgaria Rejects Severe Church Restrictions

The new year brings new regulations—but thankfully not the worship and seminary bans evangelicals initially feared.

Since October, Bulgarian evangelicals have protested proposed legislation that would hinder preaching, evangelizing, funding, and training by non-Orthodox minority faiths with weekly demonstrations and nationwide calls to prayer.

Last Friday, its last working day of 2018, the country’s parliament finally passed the new law, without the restrictions Protestants had feared the most.

“We celebrate the decision by the government of Bulgaria earlier today to allow hundreds of churches, including 130 Baptist churches, to remain open so that people of faith may continue to worship in the free convictions of their conscience,” stated the Baptist World Alliance, which opposed the initial proposal along with the Baptist Union of Bulgaria and several other national church councils.

The amendments to the Religious Denominations Act go into effect January 1 and present some additional regulations in the southeastern European country. The two major faith groups, Orthodox (85%) and Muslim (10%), also receive bigger government subsidies under the new law.

An earlier version of the amendments, as CT reported last month, put the future of Protestant education and foreign funding for churches in jeopardy.

The original proposal also barred all church activity outside official buildings and kept foreign preachers from leading services; the approved amendments regulate only the use of loudspeakers to amplify outdoor worship and allow non-Bulgarians to preach if they inform the religious affairs office, according to Evangelical Focus, a Christian news site in Europe.

Gong forward under the new rules, churches and other religious buildings can join an optional national registry to receive tax deductions.

“The willingness of the …

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Adoptive parents of the 'Hatbox Baby' had a short-lived marriage

The couple who adopted Sharon Elliott, the Hatbox Baby, led complicated lives — all the way to the end.




Officials: Lewis prison inmate who took employee hostage in 2006 did it again Wednesday

An inmate took a male employee hostage at Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis on Wednesday.
The situation was resolved without injuries, officials said.




Backpage CEO's Arizona sentencing for conspiracy pushed back to July

Carl Ferrer, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy was set to be sentenced Jan. 17. But a judge recently sided with a government request to move it to July.




Late storm brings a white Christmas to parts of northern Arizona

Light to moderate showers were forecast late Tuesday evening in the Valley, according to a weather service forecast.




A bear, a chase and a 'Christmas Miracle' that captured our attention

Several days before Christmas 2014 a bear on the loose captured the Valley’s attention.




Tax-reform changes probably will affect you. Here's a look at how.

Most people might be surprised by the high number of taxpayers affected by certain provisions — and how few are affected by others.




DPS identifies 4 people killed – 3 from same family – in 6-vehicle crash on I-10 northwest of Tucson

A DPS spokesperson said 44-year-old David Gonzales was in the eastbound lanes and crossed the median to the other side, striking an SUV head-on.




A Carol for the Despairing

Penned during the Civil War, Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is a carol for our age.

The word apocalypse in the Greek means “uncovering,” and 2018 has been a year of uncoverings, of pulling back the curtain to reveal the worst things that people can do to one another. It has uncovered abuse and corruption at every level—spilled blood, separated families, failure of justice after failure of justice, each headline hitting so quickly that it feels impossible to give anything the attention it deserves. There will be more before the end of the year; there will be more before you even finish reading this piece.

It’s hard to rejoice in an atmosphere like this. “The most wonderful time of the year” does not seem wonderful; shopping, twinkle lights, hot chocolate, ice skating and the bright bombardment of advertisements fill the space like cotton candy, too sweet and flimsy.

Like we do every year, my parents took my brother and me to see “A Christmas Carol” on stage to get everyone into the Christmas spirit (which is no small feat at the end of November). The story is familiar and heartwarming, but the song they ended their production with struck me: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Set to music a few decades later, this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was written over Christmas of either 1863 or 1864, in the middle of the bloodiest war in American history.

The carol is not cotton candy; it is a beating heart, laid bare in seven stanzas with simple language. At the second-to-last verse, I noticed dimly that I had begun to cry; by the end of the song, my face was wet with tears.

“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’” …

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