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World News Briefs

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 12:03

Missions Catalyst News Briefs 9.2.15

  1. WORLD: A Time of Anguish for the Globally Displaced
  2. ALGERIA: Exponential Growth of Kabyle Berber Church
  3. MIDDLE EAST: The Middle Eastern Mesh
  4. CENTRAL ASIA: Share Tea, Share Life
For additional news, see our Twitter feed.

 

Image: Gissur Simonarson. This photo of a Syrian father selling pens in the streets of Beirut raised more than US$150,000 for the Syrian refugee.

Dear Readers,

Last month a viral Tweet changed the lives of a Syrian refugee and his daughter (pictured above) when thousands of dollars were donated to help the two. We read that thousands of Icelanders have offered to take refugees into their homes. Syrians at train station in Hungary did not fare so well.

Such glimpses into the life of refugees are powerful. I am also looking forward to the film Salam Neighbor coming out this fall; it follows the journey of Zach and Chris, the first two filmmakers allowed to register and receive a tent inside a refugee camp. You might also be interested in the story of a recent Bethlehem Bible College graduate who took a step of faith and led his entire youth group, Palestinians, on an eye-opening short-term trip to minister to Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

Here in the US, we are entering election season, and immigration is a hot and divisive topic. That may be why we don’t hear much about immigration from the pulpit, says Matt Soeren, who points us to studies and sermon resources that could turn that around (Leadership Journal).

Politics aside, mission leaders like J.D. Payne point out that international migration is at the nexus of many of the world’s most challenging problems. You might want to listen in on J.D.’s conversation about migration and missions with leading diaspora missiologist Enoch Wan.

Don’t know where or how to begin to help refugees? Check out Exodus World Service. Working with Exodus, members of The Village Presbyterian Church in Northbrook, Illinois recently delivered their 100th Welcome to America! Pack. The church’s dedication to welcoming arriving refugee families over the last decade is a wonderful demonstration of God’s faithful care and concern for the stranger in our midst.

Love sports? Read Sports, Soccer, and Boxing as they Relate to Diaspora Missions and Evangelism (Billy Graham Center for Evangelism). Amy Walters of SEND International provides some helpful tips on reaching out to refugees. However you reach out, keep in mind these best practices of immigrant ministry from the Wesleyan ministry Global Partners.

Finally, several years ago, faithful Missions Catalyst reader Neal Pirolo published a motivating book on reaching internationals who live among us, and it’s full of great ideas related to ministry among refugees, immigrants, international students, and more.

Blessings,
Pat

WORLD: A Time of Anguish for the Globally Displaced

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:59

Source: INcontext Ministries, August 2015

During this year of spiraling crises, with millions of people already forced to flee from their homes and many thousands dying while trying to get to safety, the global humanitarian system has been severely stretched. Global forced displacement is currently reaching unprecedented levels:

  • 59.5 million individuals are forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations.
  • 51% of all refugees are children below the age of 18 years.
  • 86% of these refuges were hosted by developing nations.
  • 42,500 people are forced to leave their homes every day.
  • 53% of all refugees come from three nations alone: Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
  • 30 million people are currently subject to slavery.
  • 162 nations have slave practices.
  • 22% of these are subject to sexual exploitation

In this age of unprecedented displacement and suffering, the church needs an unparalleled response and a renewed global commitment to imitate Christ, the father of all compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3).

In John 11:35, we find the heart of Christ for those in need: “Jesus wept.” Tears of compassion well become Christians and make them most resemble Christ. It is indeed a season for anguish.

» Read full story and watch David Wilkerson’s message A Call to Anguish.

ALGERIA: Exponential Growth of Kabyle Church

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:59

Source: SAT-7 News and Prayer, August 2015

Now in its third year of broadcast, My Church in Algeria [a program in the Kabyle Berber language] is reaching thousands of remote communities across North Africa.

A secluded Protestant church in the Algerian mountains has quickly grown to over 1600 members. Daughter churches are now meeting in different cities to accommodate numbers.

Program producer Samia Jallali Kessai is heartened by the commitment of many members: “In the winter, it is very difficult to find a way up to the mountains. People have to wake up at 5:00am to get transport. The church service starts at 9:30am, but by 8:00am you will find that the church is full and many cannot find a seat.”

Every Sunday, SAT-7 broadcasts from the church. My Church in Algeria is one of the few programs broadcast in Berber on SAT-7 Arabic. A viewer from Morocco says, “Before we start our cell group church in my house on Sundays, we watch My Church in Algeria because it is in Berber.” Samia helps subtitle the recordings into Arabic: “We want to make it available to as many people as possible. It is particularly exciting as there are many communities in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and Somalia where Berber is better understood than Arabic.”

» Read full story. See also a longer version on the SAT-7 UK website. SAT-7 also broadcasts a documentary series featuring the stories of Algerian men and women who have come to faith in Christ.

MIDDLE EAST: The Middle Eastern Mesh

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:57

Source: INContext Ministries, August 5, 2015

On July 14, 2015, Iran and six world powers (America, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany) agreed on a historic deal to limit Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons.

But the conflict in the Middle East is far deeper and wider than just the nuclear threat. Four Arab civil wars are currently being fought—in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen—with Iran, America, and Saudi Arabia supporting a complex mix of warring parties.

These charts show the complexity of the conflicts that stretch over religion, ideology, ethnicity, and class. What is evident is that the Sunni-Shia rift has become more acute, with Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia playing leading roles on either side of the divide.

» Read full story. The original chart and analysis behind this piece were published in The Economist in April.

» Editor’s note: Let’s keep praying for all these powers in the Middle East, and note that September 23 is a global day of prayer for Saudi Arabia.

CENTRAL ASIA: Share Tea, Share Life

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:56

Source: IMB Connecting, August 1, 2015

“Farishta,” a young, unmarried woman from a large Central Asian family, wanted to show “Marcie” [an IMB missionary] how to perform namaz, the Islamic ritual prayer done five times a day.

Marcie shifted on the tea-stained couch and slowly shook her head as she told Farishta it wasn’t necessary.

Pointing to her cup of milk tea, Marcie asked, “When I leave and you wash this cup, will you wash the outside and the inside?”

“I’ll wash both the outside and the inside,” Farishta said.

“If you don’t wash the inside of the cup, will it still be dirty?”

“When we pray, it is important to have clean hearts before God. When I pray, I am sharing my heart with God and then listening to how he wants me to pray. Sometimes how God wants me to pray is different than I thought.”

Farishta looked at Marcie inquisitively, but changed the topic. A few minutes later, however, she brought up the topic again.

“Let me just show you how to do namaz,” Farishta insisted with a warm smile. Farishta did not understand why Marcie didn’t want to do Islamic ritual prayers. Everyone in Farishta’s community performs namaz.

“You know, namaz prayer has a special reward from God if you do it. I can show you how to do it right now,” Farishta said.

» Read the rest of the conversation. Also see sidebar stories about praying for Muslim women and hosting a women’s prayer tea.

Missions Catalyst Resource Reviews 8.26.15

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:06
In This Issue: Great Words about the Great Commission
  1. GRAPHIC: Great Quotes on the Great Commission
  2. BOOK: Engaging the Church in Missionary Care
  3. PODCAST: Engaging Missions
  4. BOOKS: Three New Titles
  5. VIDEOS: Pray with Ecuador, Brazil, Ghana, and Iraq
  6. EVENTS: September Classes and Conferences

GRAPHIC: Great Quotes on the Great Commission

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:05

Source: GMI Missiographics

While most of us can recite the famous words of the Great Commission, it’s another thing to walk faithfully in them. Take a moment to look at the Great Commission in light of these powerful words and be encouraged in your outreach.

Great Quotes on the Great Commission includes 17 quotations are all included in the book Expect Great Things: Mission Quotes that Inform and Inspire, compiled by Marvin J. Newell.

» Access full-size graphic in several formats and read some thoughts about how to use it, then browse the Missiographics library or subscribe to receive Missiographics by email.

BOOK: Engaging the Church in Missionary Care

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:04

Source: Mind the Gaps

Mind the Gaps: Engaging the Church in Missionary Care, edited by David J. Wilson, Believers Press, 2008.

Trinity Church in Redlands, California, put together a Missionary Care Team which has been developing a system of proactive care for their missionary families since 2008. In this book they share their firsthand accounts along with results of their research on missionary care. Mind the Gaps is designed to equip your church with tools to create your own system of proactive care and reduce burnout and attrition.

A few things about this book are unusual. It’s written by a committee, rather than a single author. It’s written by and for church leaders, rather than from industry professionals. It also covers a broad array of related topics: everything from recruiting a missionary care team and establishing a philosophy of ministry to predicting missionary success and evaluating mission agencies, as well as more traditional topics of missionary care such as meeting spiritual, emotional, and practical needs and walking with missionaries through transitions.

The result is a bit overwhelming, and maybe especially for churches that don’t have a mission pastor and a strong mission committee like Trinity’s. On the other hand, the book covers so much ground and provides so many practical tips that even if your church has a well-developed strategy for missionary care, there’s probably something here that you can use.

» Purchase from Amazon (or elsewhere) for US$10.95. Electronic editions not yet available but expected soon. To learn more:

  1. Visit the Mind the Gaps website. It features links and downloadable resources mentioned in the book.
  2. Attend the Mind the Gaps webinar that David Wilson, Trinity’s Mission Pastor, will lead for Missio Nexus on September 16.
  3. Send people from your church to the Mind the Gaps conference March 3-5, 2016 in Redlands, CA, which will feature some top leaders in missionary care today. More info will be posted on the Mind the Gaps website by mid-September.

PODCAST: Engaging Missions

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:03

Source: Engaging Missions

Every episode of Engaging Missions includes interviews with missionaries, ministry leaders, disciple makers, and church planters as they share about God’s work in their lives and ministries.

You can listen online, get updates by email, or subscribe through iTunes or other services. Host Brian Entzminger has recorded about 60 interviews to date. Here are a few of his favorites:

Can You Believe God Did This in the United States?: Gary Stump left business to pastor a church. Then God called him to flip everything on its head and plant a new church using the T4T principles.

How to Impact Lostness: While on a mission trip to Laos, Troy Cooper was convicted about how a “successful” ministry wasn’t impacting lostness. What happened between him and God has shaped his ministry going forward.

How to Get from Hello to a Gospel Presentation: In this episode, Kevin Greeson shares a simple framework to connect with someone through conversation and naturally bridge the gap to the gospel.

How to Recognize and Share God’s Love to a Sikh: After years in the corporate world, God to James Human in a new direction. Now, he’s a bit of an expert and helps train people to share the gospel with Sikhs.

How to Pray, Love and Minister During Ramadan. Don Perry is an expert on Islam but he’s not a pundit. He’s a minister and teacher with a heart for reconciliation and God’s Kingdom. As Ramadan kicks off in 2015, he shares his perspective on Christians and Ramadan.

» Learn more or browse contents.

BOOKS: Three New Titles

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:02

Source: Marti Wade

As I head into the final stretch on a grad school degree I’m having trouble keeping up with all the books I’d like to read for my own sake as well as to share with you! So I haven’t picked up these inspirational volumes yet. If you have, can you let the rest of us know what you think of them?

Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic, by Kent and Amber Brantly, with David Thomas. Waterbrook Press, 2015. 240 pages. Get the inside story on the couple’s commitment to serve and their battle with Ebola.

Martyrs of Malatya: Martyred for the Messiah in Turkey, by James Wright. Evangelical Press, 2015. 216 pages. The story of three men who gave their lives for Christ on April 18, 2007. We’ve reviewed several of Wright’s previous books here before.

Boundless: What Global Expressions of Faith Teach Us about Following Jesus, by Bryan Bishop. Baker Books, 2015, 240 pages. Bishop, a writer and researcher with Youth with a Mission, provides firsthand accounts of fresh expressions of faith in Jesus outside the boundaries of traditional Western Christianity.

» Share your thoughts about these books or other new releases you’d like to recommend on our website.

VIDEOS: Pray with Ecuador, Brazil, Ghana, and Iraq

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:01

Source: OneWay Ministries

We love the Prayercast videos! Check out new videos designed to help you learn about and pray alongside the people of Ecuador, Brazil, Ghana and Iraq for their countries. Each piece is insightful, engaging, and God-focused. How could you use them with your family, students, church, or small group?

» See the whole collection.

EVENTS: September Classes and Conferences

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:00

Source: Missions Events Calendar

September 3-5, Missions Fest Kinshasa (Kinshasa, DRC).

September 4-5, Missions Fest Pretoria (Pretoria, South Africa).

September 7-11, ETHNE Global Gathering (South Asia). ETHNE is a global movement focused on seeing each people group reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

September 7-20, ORIENT (Joplin, MO, USA). Pre-departure training for cross-cultural workers provided by TRAIN International.

September 11-12, Without Borders (Houston, TX, USA). A conference for Christian women to learn how to reach Muslim women. Provided by Crescent Project.

September 14-15, Support-raising Bootcamp (Richmond, CA, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

September 14 to December 13, Encountering the World of Islam (online). Twelve-week class will help you discover God’s heart for Muslims.

September 15-21, Traction Conference for Men (Wilderswil, Switzerland). Provided by Catalyst International.

September 16, Mind the Gaps: Engaging the Church in Missionary Care (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

September 17, Mission in Honor-Shame Cultures (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

September 17-19, Field Security Seminar (Lake George, CO, USA). Skills for field staff working in dangerous environments around the world.

September 17-19, GO Equipped TENTmaking Course (Chennai, India). Provided by Global Opportunities, hosted by Tent.

September 18-20, The Journey Deepens (Jacksonville Beach, FL, USA). A weekend retreat for prospective missionaries.

September 18-20, Controversies in Christian Mission (Dallas, TX, USA). Annual meeting of the Evangelical Missiological Society.

September 24-26, “Upward” Mission Leaders Conference (Orlando, FL, USA). Provided by Missio Nexus.

September 26, Heart for Asia Conference (San Mateo, CA, USA). Join OMF’s 150th anniversary celebration.

September 29, Do Your Short-term Mission Trips Measure Up? (webinar). Provided by DELTA Ministries.

September 29-30, Fund Raising for Ministry Organizations (Longview, TX, USA). Provided by Missionary TECH Team.

September 29 to October 3, GO Equipped TENTmaking Course (Detroit, MI, USA). Provided by Global Opportunities and Send International.

September 30 to November 25, Mobilizer Equipping School (Chiang Mai, Thailand). Provided by Student Volunteer Movement 2.

» View the complete calendar and/or submit an item.

World News Briefs

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 09:52

Missions Catalyst News Briefs 8.19.15

  1. EAST AFRICA: Muslim Imam Risks Life to Become Christian
  2. TURKEY: Kurdish Pilgrim Touched by Jesus in Mecca
  3. CENTRAL ASIA: Thirsty for God’s Word
  4. ALGERIA: “No Competition” between Churches
For additional news, see our Twitter feed.

Image: United Bible Societies (from Algeria story below).

Dear Readers,

While we usually aim for a balance of personal stories, traditional “news,” and broader analysis, today’s edition has a bumper crop of personal testimonies and encounters with Christ. As you skim them, you might pause to praise God for his work in the lives of individuals all over the world and linger to read the rest of the stories that catch your interest.

Reports like these bring several thoughts to mind. I’m skeptical enough to question how some of them are told; have others pressured storytellers to frame their testimonies in certain ways? As I pick and choose, cut and paste, am I doing the same thing? Yet I also ask myself if I am as faithful in seeking God in impossible situations and telling others how he has been at work close to me.

As you read, ask God to sustain those he has called to himself as he builds his kingdom worldwide. Seek the Lord to open doors to share these stories (and your own) with others so that they might give him glory and grow in their knowledge of him.

Blessings,
Pat

EAST AFRICA: Muslim Imam Risks Life to Become Christian

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 09:49

Source: World Watch Monitor, July 31, 2015

Tofik trained to become an imam at an Islamic (madrasa) school in Africa. “In school I only learned about Islam,” he said. “Parts of our teaching were about destroying Christianity. So we did what we learned, by attacking Christians once we finished our training.”

He said he was taught that Christians are bad people, and that he and the other students were encouraged to steal from and kill non-Muslims.

“We beat them, attacked the church and burnt their Bibles… Our teachers would tell us every time there was a new church in town and we were told to go and attack the people and destroy the church. So that’s what we did,” Tofik said.

Tofik was one of 14 students selected by the local mosque to be trained in Saudi Arabia for further Islamic studies. After finishing his education, he became an imam. He led the construction of 16 mosques in his area. He also imposed a rule: No village leaders or visitors could preach Christianity in his town.

[But then] Tofik began working with Christians when a church in a neighboring village started a project and appointed him as a coordinator for the area’s social work…

» Read about what happened next or watch him tell the story on video.

» Other stories with “Saul to Paul” themes include Yazidi Leader Healed and 136 More Come to Christ (Godreports), Cambodian “Saul” Killed for the Khmer Rouge, Transformed into “Paul” by the Word and the Spirit (ASSIST News Service), Boko Haram Members Convert to Christianity (Christian Today) and Former Sandinista Now Part of God’s Army (ASSIST News Service). Let’s ask God for some extremist monks to come to Christ, too! (Asian Correspondent).

TURKEY: Kurdish Pilgrim Touched by Jesus in Mecca

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 09:49

Source: ASSIST News Service, via Godreports, June 30, 2015

Ali Pektash grew up in a Kurdish family with 10 children. He was rejected by his mother, which opened a deep wound in his life. He was taken in by his uncle, but he too chased him out.

He met and married Zehra, but succumbed to heavy drinking, which began to destroy his life. He would start to shake if he didn’t have a drink and things got so bad that he was beating his wife several times a day and struggling to breathe after just a few steps.

Friends persuaded him to find work in Saudi Arabia, where the sale of alcohol is forbidden. But he was surprised to discover there was plenty of it available there.

Perhaps Mecca held the key to success, friends suggested, so he agreed to join a group on hajj (pilgrimage) during his time in Arabia.

“I knew I belonged to God somehow—he was my friend—but I did not belong to a religion I could find. I circled the Ka’ba seven times (one of the specified rites involved in the pilgrimage), and watched everybody kissing this black stone. But I walked the other way. I believed in a living God, not in a rock.”

When they retreated to their tents for the night, he chose to sleep under the stars because it was so hot.

Then something remarkable happened in the middle of the night.

“Jesus came to me in a dream, put his finger on my forehead and his hand on my heart. He was smiling at me and said: ‘Get up and leave this place.’”

» Full story with pictures.

» Editor’s note: A different sort of pilgrimage will happen in the USA soon and can use our prayers. Read this insightful piece about “Burning Man”: A Journey towards Understanding Alternative Spiritualities (Billy Graham Center for Evangelism).

CENTRAL ASIA: Thirsty for God’s Word

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 09:48

Source: IMB Connecting, July 2015

One airplane ride, a two-and-a-half-day bus ride, and a seven-hour camel ride away from the StoryTogether [gospel storytelling] workshop location, Central Asian believers regularly gather for prayer, praise, and teaching in a dry mountainous region among some of the world’s fiercest Muslim extremists.

For 15 years since the gospel first penetrated “behind the mountains that are behind the mountains,” as one workshop attendee describes his home, many of the 20 people groups within the church network have persevered in following Jesus with no Scripture to guide them.

[Several missionaries in another area] worked with their national partner to bring church leaders from two languages groups to their hub city for the first of four StoryTogether workshops. The workshop goals are to produce “story crafters” who will learn to tell biblically accurate stories about God and the church in their culture’s style, and begin building a canon of stories the story crafters will then teach to others.

The men, thirsty for God’s Word, were eager students as they learned the first story—Jesus’ parable of the sower and the four soils. Tasked to go out into the community and retell the story, one group found camel herders who spoke their language. The other language group visited a labor camp filled with thousands of Central Asian men, some of whom spoke their language.

One hundred laborers—sleeping 5 to 10 men in a space the size of a dorm room and working six to seven days a week in extreme conditions—listened carefully as the visitors recounted the parable of the soils. The next day, the StoryTogether students returned, prepared to tell a second story.

“When they got there, they found the 100 men that had heard the first story waiting eagerly for the StoryTogether team. The laborers told the StoryTogether participants that they could not sleep and they could not stop thinking and talking about what they had heard the night before.” After discussing the stories until late in the night, 20 laborers stood up and said they wanted to follow Jesus.

» Full story with photos and prayer points.

» Other stories from Central Asia: Seeking Work but Finding Faith and Reading with Bibi (both from Operation Mobilization). Readers might also be interested in reports of broadcast ministries reaching Albanian Muslims in the Balkans (Godreports).

ALGERIA: “No Competition” between Churches

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 09:48

Source: United Bible Societies, July 27, 2015

What I enjoy most about my visits to Algeria are the Christians from all walks of life who I get to meet, and their love for the Bible. Earlier this year I met a Catholic priest who is a frequent visitor to the Bible Society. He told me how he provides New Testaments or Bibles to people who come to his church to request Scriptures.

“Father B” isn’t a typical priest here, where the Catholic Church is very wary of being accused of proselytism. He explains that when he first arrived in Algeria, he asked his bishop for Bibles for those who requested one. He was told: “Let’s wait a little…” Then the people who had requested a Bible looked everywhere for one on the Internet, and some ended up receiving one from a cult abroad.

“Since then, it is agreed that I can give a New Testament or even a Bible to whoever requests one,” explains Father B. “The Bible Society is the only place in Algeria where we can buy Scriptures and, despite the long drive, I regularly go to Algiers to bring some back.”

Ali Khidri, General Secretary of the Bible Society in Algeria, nods with a big smile: Father B is a regular customer at the Bible Society and they get on well. It is so good to see a Catholic priest and a Protestant pastor collaborate with such enthusiasm. It is true that the first Protestant “house church” is many miles away from Father B’s parish—but, really, the concept of competition is the last thing on his mind.

“A young man who became a Christian several months ago and who is doing Bible studies with me was baptized last week by a Protestant pastor he also talks with from time to time,” he says. “I was delighted! There is no competition between us.”

» Read full story.

» We’ve run out of space in this edition! If you’ve got time, though, check out Amazing Peace in a Region of Iraq (World Evangelical Alliance) and Fighting for the Forgotten Pygmies (Mission Network News).

Practical Mobilization

Wed, 08/12/2015 - 16:58

In this Issue: Setting a course for global engagement

Sailboat image: Easysailing, Flikr/Creative Commons

What’s Your Status, Gladys? Setting a Course for Global Engagement

By Shane Bennett

My wife and I have a text message shorthand question to ask how things are going when we’re apart: “What’s your status, Gladys?” Neither of us is named Gladys. I just like the rhyme. And I’m hoping it will stick in your mind as I ask you what your status is relative to God’s work throughout the world. You know: missions, the Great Commission, call it what you like.

What’s your status, Gladys?

What is your part and how well are you playing it?

If you’re the epicenter of your church’s cross-cultural efforts, if you’re confident and comfortable in the role God has you playing right now, or if you’re up to your ears with an unengaged people group, this article isn’t so much for you. It is, however, for people in your sphere of influence, so please consider passing it along.

If, on the other hand, you sense God asking you to engage in a more significant way, if there’s a niggling somewhere in your heart or mind, and you’re not sure what to do or how to get going, read on. This is going to help.

The process is simple:

A. Set a course.
B. Determine the very next step.
C. Kick down the obstacles.

Let’s take a closer look.

A: Set a course.

Maybe you’re thinking about the world for the first time. That God might be asking someone like you to join someone like him in amazing global work is a new concept. You’ve got to figure out how to get going.

Or maybe you’ve been following Jesus for a while and always thought missions was a cool idea, but never actually took the leap. Now God’s saying, “The water’s great. Get in here!”

Perhaps you’ve been logging hours for the world but have this crazy hunch that God wants to strap some rockets to your efforts and light the fuse!

The first thing to remember is that you can’t do everything. If you try, you’ll be lousy at the whole list. Paul was right about that body of Christ thing: God is smart enough to equip each of us so that together we can accomplish what he has in mind. The trick, of course, is determining if you’re a hand or a heart, an elbow or an epiglottis. (Is anyone that part of the body?)

You didn’t ask for advice, but here it is: Don’t let this decision paralyze you. Trust in the equipping (and when you goof, the redeeming) power of God and get moving.

Some people shake out the basic modes of involvement in missions into praying, sending, going, welcoming, and mobilizing. Consider simply picking from the list and moving in that general direction. Definitely seek God at this point (and every other). You’d also be wise to seek the input of people who are wiser or more experienced than you are.

Keep in mind: These categories can overlap. Choosing one as a focus doesn’t lock you in forever.

If you can honestly say “I feel that God wants me to play a bigger part in his globally expanding kingdom, but I don’t know what part,” let me offer you two options to consider:

1. The unengaged

Focus your copious skills and energy on an unengaged Muslim people group. Read this Practical Mobilization column from a couple of months ago. Check out this list from the International Mission Board. Then talk to someone like the kindly mavericks at Frontiers about how quickly you can dive into the deep end!

2. The overlooked

Let me invite you, as personally as I can in an article like this, to join me in a growing effort to respond to the heart-wrenching humanitarian crisis and amazing gospel opportunity unfolding in Sicily right now. I think there’s a place for you in what God is launching, and I’d love to explore that with you. Let’s do something epic together.

B: Determine the very next step.

Regardless of the general direction you choose, education might be your next step. Perspectives classes, which may be the best introduction to God’s global purposes, are starting up right now all across the U.S. and beyond. There are other classes and curricula that cover similar ground which may be in the works in your church or town. Ask around!

Signed up for Perspectives, now what? Generally, look to see what your tribe is doing. How does the direction you want to head in work at your church? How could you contribute there? Is God unfolding something cool at your church that he has in mind for you to contribute to? Moving forward with your tribe can be very powerful.

For specifics, this site has some great ideas for each main role. Also consider these:

Praying

Set an alarm on your phone for 10.02am and simply pray as Jesus said to in Luke 10.2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Sending

Tell a fund-raising friend that you’re trying to learn to send, so you’ll support her $20 (or $200) a month for six months and then re-evaluate. Ask to get on her email newsletter list.

Going

Get a passport! You may not be able to go anywhere cool without one.

Welcoming

Call the closest university and ask if any international students have signed up to be paired with local friends. Agree to be one of those local friends.

Mobilizing

Forward this email to three friends who might walk with you as you move toward the world and God’s work in it.

C: Kick down the obstacles

It would be so cool if knowing your general direction and clearly understanding the very next step led seamlessly to action. Sadly, in the real world, things like fear, apathy, and busy-ness conspire to keep us where we are. Might as well be honest about it. What is most likely to keep you from taking your next step?

Thinking your friends will think you’ve lost it?

Wondering where the money will come from?

Mired in uncertainty?

Do this with me: Name it and un-claim it! Seek God’s power and a friend’s, pastor’s, or mom’s support—whatever is required. Take that very next step.

One caveat: If it’s all you can do right now to breathe and your next step is pretty much just trying to stay alive, please don’t let these words further burden you. My prayer for you is that God soon brings you out of the valley into refreshing green pastures and quiet waters.

Conclusion

So what’s your status, Gladys? What’s the main direction, what’s the very next step, and what do you need to kill to take it? God’s grace to you and to us! I’m hungry to see his purposes fulfilled on the earth. I want to see his blessing blossom in every family. And both the Bible and experience indicate it’s going to take a lot of us showing up with all the strength and smarts and persistence we can muster, coupled with the empowering of the Holy Spirit. We need you. Your contribution matters. If God is nudging you forward: engage!

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KOSOVA: Breakthrough during Ramadan

Wed, 08/05/2015 - 07:53

Sinan Pasha Mosque and stone bridge in Kosovo (Wikipedia / Tobias Klenze).

Source: Train International, July 2015

During the month of Ramadan, while our Muslims cousins were fasting across the globe, a great many Christian brothers and sisters were united in prayer for them. Midway through the month, God moved in a powerful way in Kosova (Kosovo), a Muslim-majority country in Eastern Europe. Powerful, and practically without precedent in the collective memory of both Kosovar nationals and international missionaries serving in the area.

The leaders and elders of a village of about 500 people, located in the patriotic heartland of the country, reached out to a group of Kosovar followers of Christ. These Muslim men had made the trip to a distant city where they knew Christians lived; there were none in their village or even their near vicinity. Their request? “Come tell us about your Jesus.”

Curious about what prompted many of the Kosovars to leave their traditions for the way of Christ, these leaders asked for a delegation of converts to visit their village, share their story of conversion, and explain the gospel and how they could get in on it if they so desired.

When the day came, nine followers of Christ made the trip and were welcomed hospitably in this village. They shared their story, shared the good news, and 27 Kosovars immediately responded, asking to follow the way of Christ. Two days later, 27 had grown to 300!

In that remote village where there had been no church, no Christians, and no missionaries, God was working to stir up hearts and draw his people back to himself. It’s not likely a coincidence that this took place during a time of intense concentration of united, worldwide prayer for the Muslim world. Let’s keep praying for breakthroughs and for the Lord to draw people to himself, responding to opportunities he brings, and celebrating his power.

» Editor’s note: Thanks to the reader who submitted and confirmed this article. No, you won’t find it on their website. Let us know if you’ve heard other reports of how our prayers were answered!

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