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Pray for the World, editorial advisor Molly Wall; foreword by Patrick Johnstone. IVP Books, 2015. 313 pages.
For decades, Operation World has been the world’s leading resource for people who want to impact the nations for Christ through prayer. Its twofold purpose has been to inform for prayer and to mobilize for mission.
Chock full of facts and figures, it’s seen just as much use as a reference book. And we have to admit that at more than 1000 pages, it is a bit overwhelming.
Pray for the World is an abridged and simplified paperback version of the 2010 edition of Operation World and designed to take the material to a larger audience. The maps and key data are still there, but this volume is only some 300 pages long and more easily used as a resource for prayer and mobilization. “We wrote Pray for the World especially with non-native English speakers, translators, and students in mind,” say the editors, “but we know its streamlined size and focus will help us ALL pick it up and pray!”
You could put copies in the hands of supporters, disciples, short-termers, or small group leaders. Save some money if you buy them by the case.
» Learn more, preview contents, or purchase for US$11.10 from Amazon (or elsewhere).
» Readers might also be interested in another newly released book, Serving God in Today’s Cities: Facing the Challenge of Urbanization, by Patrick Johnstone with Dean Merrill (GMI Books).
Source: Moving Works
Alex Pan was a Chinese immigrant, a science student, and an atheist attending a prestigious university in a post-modern city. Then a friend invited him to church and things got interesting…
» Watch the four-minute video. Please feel free to use it in any way that can benefit your ministry.
Here’s another interesting film from Moving Works: Raised? is a set of videos and two-minute video shorts that follow a couple’s journey from doubt to faith in Christ. While you can use the videos on their own, they’re designed to accompany the Zondervan book Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection, by Jonathan K. Dodson and Brad Watson. A free small-group study on journeying through doubt is also available, along with other tools you could use with your church.
Several publications dealing with giving have come our way. Take a look!Biblical Perspectives on Generosity
Ignite Your Generosity: A 21-Day Experience in Stewardship (revised). By Chris McDaniel. IVP Books, 2015. 80 pages.
The original 21-day devotional is now expanded with a four-week small group guide for individuals or groups. Each day’s reading features an engaging story, Scripture for further study, and personal reflection questions to grow in the area of stewardship. IVP is also offering the “Generosity Challenge” as a free download.Historical Perspectives on Generosity
Gospel Patrons: People Whose Generosity Changed the World, by John Rinehart. Reclaimed Publishing, 2014. 117 pages.
You know about William Tyndale, George Whitfield, and John Newton, but what about Humphrey Monmouth, Lady Huntingdon, and John Thornton? This engaging book tells the stories of these three “gospel patrons” whose generosity was a catalyst for great movements of God. Download the audio book, join the author’s mailing list to get the PDF for free, or purchase hardback or Kindle editions.Global Perspectives on Generosity
Christ-Centered Generosity: Global Perspectives on the Biblical Call to a Generous Life, edited by Scott Rodin. Kingdom Life Publishing, 2015. 200 pages.
“A theologically sound, biblically based resource for Christian leaders, pastors and the body of Christ on the theme of our call to be faithful stewards who live lives of generosity and joy.” Features 33 contributors from 22 countries. Available in early April, but you can pre-order it now. Learn more from the Global Generosity Movement.
Source: DELTA Ministries
DELTA is offering a series of interactive, one-hour webinars grappling with difficult and controversial issue in short-term missions, equipping mission team leaders, and offering guidance on determining what kind of mission trip is right for your church or organization. The staff at DELTA know what they’re talking about and share it here at a reasonable price—just US$10 per webinar. Dates and topics include:
» Learn more or sign up. See also their online training course for short-term mission participants and other resources for training, debriefing, and more.
» Editor’s note: Several of the upcoming webinars from Missio Nexus also deal with short-term mission issues and feature subject-area experts you may know.
April 9-10, Support Raising Bootcamp (Rogers, AR, USA). From Support Raising Solutions.
April 8-11, Offering Healing and Hope for Children in Crisis (Orlando, FL, USA). A training-for-trainers event is also offered the following week. Provided by Crisis Care Training International.
April 14, Global Day of Prayer for the 4/14 Window (global). Praying for the world’s children, especially those aged 4-14.
April 16, Contributing to Poverty Alleviation Through Short-term Missions: It’s a Difficult Dance (online). Webinar provided by Missio Nexus.
April 16-18, Intercultural Fusion (Atlanta area, GA, USA). Ethnic ministries summit, sponsored by the Ethnic America Network.
April 17-18, Care ConneXion (Beaverton, OR, USA). A Mission ConneXion event.
April 17-18, Mobile Ministry Forum Consultation (Zelhem, Netherlands).
April 18, Bridges Seminar (Houston, TX, USA). Building bridges to reach Muslims. Provided by Crescent Project.
April 20 to May 3, ORIENT (Eminence, MO, USA). Pre-departure training for cross-cultural workers provided by TRAIN International.
April 21-24, iDisciple Conference (Gilbert, AZ, USA). On disciple-making movements.
April 22 to June 17, Mobilizer Equipping School (Chiang Mai, Thailand). Provided by Student Volunteer Movement 2.
April 23-25, Christian Community Health Conference (Atlanta, GA, USA).
April 24-26, The Journey Deepens (Charlotte, NC, USA). A weekend retreat for prospective missionaries.
April 25, Reentry Care (Holland, MI, USA). Training teams to teach churches how to care for returning missionaries.
April 27-30, Thrive Retreat (Lima, Peru). For North American women serving cross-culturally.
April 28, Planning Your Own Trainings and Meetings (webinar). For short-term mission teams leaders; provided by DELTA Ministries.
April 29 to May 1, International Wholistic Missions Conference (Peoria, AZ, USA). From the Global CHE Network.
April 29 to May 3, TENTmaking Course (Bergen, Norway). Provided by Global Opportunities and Tent Norway.
My task is to pick what might be relevant for you as you think about the task of “making disciples of all nations.” Some of these stories and statistics don’t have an obvious relation to spreading the Good News but may be noteworthy for us as we strategize for the future.
May the Spirit inspire new ideas and maybe nudge some to do a new thing as we face the challenges ahead!
Source: various, via Pat Noble
Concerned about issues affecting the world’s women? Take a look at these stories in the news, coming from a variety of sources and perspectives.
Four stories about women pushing the boundaries:
For India’s Widows, a Riot of Color, an Act of Liberation (NPR)
Iranian Women Are Taking to Facebook to Protest against Compulsory Hijabs (VICE News)
Meet the Surfing Girls of Iran and read about the skateboarding school for girls in Afghanistan (MessyNessy)
Three stories about women in politics and government:
Ultra-Orthodox Women Enter Israel’s Election Race to Anger and Protest (VICE News)
Afghanistan: Don’t Leave Women Out of Peace Talks (Human Rights Watch)
Bagdad’s First Female Mayor Takes Office (Muftah)
Two stories about women in dangerous places:
Protecting Women and Children in the Line of Fire (Institute for Security Studies; will tell you the MOST dangerous place to be a woman)
One Woman’s Dream (Women Without Borders). This is an amazing story, and Women Without Borders, which covers human rights for girls and women worldwide, includes others that might interest you.
Finally, some global analysis; check out this interactive map that is full of information on the “gains and gaps” of progress for women over the last 20 years (No Ceilings).
Source: Email from Praying Through the Arabian Peninsula, March 2015
PTAP would ask that we would pray for those suffering under the hand of ISIS and also pray for ISIS to be convicted of sin. Our continued battle is not with flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces that cause people to act with such evil. Download a 30-day prayer guide to pray for this situation. ISIS is affecting Syria and Iraq, but also the whole world. So please pray and seek his face during these times.
Source: Mission Network News, March 13, 2015
Persecuted Christians in the West African country of Niger are “very upbeat” despite recent attacks in their country.
“We’ve only lost things,” they told IMB strategy leader, Greg Dorsey. “We’ve not lost the church, just some buildings.”
Dorsey expressed gratitude that recent violence at the hands of angry Muslims was targeted at buildings, not people.
“There is a sense that this is the time for the church, that…what was meant for evil, God intends for good,” he continued. Instead of seeking retaliation or revenge, even believers who lost their homes and possessions are confident that God is good and Jesus is still Lord.
“It was also encouraging to see that at least one public statement has been made by a representative of the evangelical churches in Niamey, where they publicly stated on radio and television that they forgave those who did all the damage and the burnings. That was pretty powerful.”
The attacks appeared to be well-planned and coordinated, as small mobs ransacked and burned more than 50 structures all over Niamey in less than four hours. Both missionaries and national believers found marks on their gates, indicating their homes were potential targets.
But stories abound of members of the Muslim community who warned their Christian friends and neighbors of impending danger, protected their homes while they were in hiding, and offered them shelter—all indications there was limited support for the group perpetuating the violence. Dorsey said some Christians feel their Muslim neighbors were ashamed of what was done in the name of Islam.
» More good news from MNN: New Khmer Translation Opens Doors for Gospel.
Source: Godreports, March 4, 2015
One day about two years ago, a lady who had heard of Maria’s ministry through her sister invited her to come and start a church in her village. “I did not know what type of people would come,” Maria remembers. “Some of the people we started to have were a few pimps and prostitutes.”
But Maria was not shocked. In fact, she had come in contact with a pimp in this village before. For a while, Maria had led a Bible study at his house, and he had asked her to pray for his business—but when she discovered what it was, she instead prayed for God to change his business. After a lot of arguments and prayers, he agreed to change jobs as long as he could earn enough money to provide for his family. Maria helped him secure a loan to start a livestock project and he is now happily employed in honest labor.
Since Maria had witnessed the change in this man’s life, she wasn’t shocked when she found out who made up her new congregation. “I just looked at them as normal people, people with messed-up lives—as almost all people have.”
Maria knew that most of her parishioners were men and women with no work and no education who got involved in this type of business because it was the easiest way to find money for their families and feed their children.
Source: Charisma Magazine, March 5, 2015
For two baby girls in India, life almost ended in a public trash bin. That’s where their parents dumped them right after they were born. Noor and Parveen are girls—and in India, almost no one wants a girl. Girls are useless, not worthy of being educated, and on top of every other encumbrance, parents have to pay huge dowries when they marry. No wonder the greeting given to an Indian bride on her wedding day is, “May you be the mother of a hundred sons.”
Thankfully when Noor and Parveen’s parents dumped them in a public trash bin, Raja Kumar Undurthi, pastor of Mission Mobilization Church, heard their cries and rescued them. He brought them to Mordecai House, a Christian shelter where 33 girls now live. Every single one of the girls was abandoned by her parents, but here they receive healing from their past, education for their future, and encouragement to transform nations.
» Read full story, which profiles a ministry that rescues and empowers abused women. So far The Mordecai Project has initiated projects in Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, and India, with plans to expand.
» See also Exposing the Underbelly of Delhi’s Gang Rape Epidemic (Journeyman Pictures; 26-minute video).
In this issue: Middle School Missions
By Shane Bennett
If you’re at all like me (oh, let’s hope not), you just now decided there’s not enough time to pull together a short-term mission trip for your middle schoolers (pre-teens) on spring break, which for us starts a week from Friday. But maybe, just maybe, there’s time to do something with those kids this summer, something besides the entirely valid idea of staying home and working on a project in your own neighborhood. Maybe there’s an Indian reservation or Mexican border-town orphanage with one last opening for another group of American kids?Three Starting Factors
What would you do with a middle-school mission team? What would you look for in evaluating the opportunities? Here’s what made my short list.1. Safety
I want a junior high short term to be safe and predictable, like a pinewood derby, with extensive, detailed, skillful, smart preparation. Everyone meets at the starting line, then the gate drops and the thing proceeds directly, inevitably to its preordained conclusion. More often, though, these endeavors feel more like trying to pick up a bag of marbles spilled on a hard wood floor in the dark. During an earthquake.
Some of those marbles are the magic of the experience. So we’d be unwise to eliminate them all. And you can only do that (maybe) by staying home. But the chief concern in the mind of almost all parents is, “What are the odds my kid will return from this experience whole and healthy?” So we’d be smart to prioritize safety.
One way to make a trip safer is to not cross any borders. Any border really, but I’m thinking about international ones. Staying away from borders, we can avoid passport issues, lines at the crossing, or pseudo-legal notes saying the young buck with the soul patch does indeed have permission to take your daughter out of the country!
We can also “up” the safety factor by linking with similar-culture churches in cities whose predominant language is the same as our own and with whose legal system we have a vague familiarity.2. Significance
While safety matters, we can’t let it be the only factor. Middle-school mission experiences need to be significant as well. A visit to the Rainforest Cafe is safe, but really, plastic alligators aren’t going to change lives! Some short terms are more significant than others. How can we prioritize time among people who are little exposed to the gospel, not just little blessed by Western materialism? And how can we invest limited hours in ways that have huge payoff, both in the lives of our kids and in those we hope to serve and serve with?
The more we can partner with wise, long-term ministries, the higher the likelihood of our doing significant work. I love what Refuge is doing in Louisville. Find their doppelganger in the city you want to visit.3. Savings
As with safe, the cheapest trip is from the kitchen to the couch. If you actually do launch out, it’s going to cost some coin. If we drive to a domestic location, sleep on the floor of a church, cook our own food, and don’t buy lift tickets or Disney park passes, we can significantly ratchet up the ratio of bang to buck.What to Do
Let’s say you’re with me so far (God bless you!). What should you do with your kids on a trip like this? Thanks for asking. Here you go:1. Connect with others.
A smart friend of mine, a Young Life leader who, in her own words, “works with wealthy white kids” says, “Get them in a position of being ‘the other,’ genuinely distrusted by some other group for the first time. Get them out of their perfect, white, wealthy bubble long enough to really see something else. This is healthy.”
You probably don’t want to stop there, though. Part of what makes this work is the hope of developing an authentic connection with others. My favorite starter activity for this is a cultural scavenger hunt. Send kids out in groups of three or four with a list of questions to answer and artifacts to find. Arrange the game in such a way that winning depends on conversations with local people.
For some of your kids this will be the first time they’ve ever spoken to someone whose first language is not the same as theirs. Or it may be the first time they’ve been in a position to receive kindness from a Muslim or a Hindu. This can have powerful, preconception-crushing impact. Prearrange a time for your group to visit a mosque, for example, preferably when you can observe a regular prayer time. Be sure to clue in to the dress code and stick around after for questions and answers (going both ways).2. Host a party.
Fill a neighborhood with good music and the smoke of a dozen grills. Play games and give prizes. Share some of what God has given you. While the kids are playing, the older people can chat. Cool stuff can emerge.3. Serve alongside local friends.
This takes some planning, but arrange to work alongside some local folks in a project that benefits their community. Abrahamic Alliance in San Jose excels at this.4. Pray.
Of course you’ll pray for your trip and your time, but what would it look like to make praying for people a key part of what you do? My experience is this: (a) Many people, lots of Muslims for example, tend to be really OK with Christians praying for them. More than you might expect. And (b) Kids sometimes are way better pray-ers than grownups. I don’t know your kids, but I’m intrigued by the idea of unleashing the Holy Spirit through the lives of some wild-eyed middle schoolers.5. Connect with Jesus.
While you’re connecting with new friends, don’t forget to connect with Jesus. I like to see trips like this include team Bible study, worship, and prayer. Keep re-orienting the focus: We are here because of Jesus, because he is King, because he has in mind to make all things new, including us, these people, and this neighborhood.
I also like to see kids praying and worshiping with Christians local to the city they’re visiting. There’s so much to be learned and gained in that.
Connect to Jesus and connect the experience to the rest of your kids’ lives by tithing the trip to debriefing. If the trip is five days long, conserve an entire half day to debrief. You might want to space this out with 30 minutes each day and a three hours on the last day. Basically you ask, “What is Jesus saying to us and what does it mean?”
Fail to debrief and you’ll forfeit 30 percent of the impact of your trip.6. Serve and burn.
There’s a reason middle-school mission trips usually revolve around manual labor. Kids are like puppies: Boundless energy and no maturity! All the wishing (and Ritalin) in the world will not change this. Might as well work with it.
I like to put kids to work serving people who serve refugees. Visit a refugee ministry to pull weeds, haul trash, sort clothes, clean basements, and yes, paint whatever lacks the will to flee their sloppy brushes! This, and lots of walking, will help burn off some of that excess energy. I’ve also done this with a day care catering to the predominant refugee culture. It was great fun!
A trip like this can be significant both in the lives of your kids and for those you serve or serve with. It won’t be totally cheap nor completely safe, so do it under the care of your loving God. And may he give us grace to be a part of raising up the next generation of laborers for his plentiful harvest.
Source: Prayercast, February 2, 2015
Up to 1.2 million people were displaced by the violence in Iraq in 2014 alone. Millions more live in fear. Massacres, beheadings, crucifixions, abductions, and sexual violence are rampant. Islamic State has attempted to eliminate entire Christian communities. As many as eight million people are believed to now live under the partial, or complete, control of IS.
This modern-day nightmare has not only darkened the landscape of Iraq and Syria, but the whole world, with over 11,000 people from abroad joining the ranks of the 30-50,000 Islamic State militants. Teaching an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam, they believe they are the only true believers and see the rest of the world as their enemy. Using violence to get what they want, their goal is the creation of an Islamic caliphate ruled by a single political and religious leader, ruling Muslim communities around the world.
Despite these gruesome realities, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but…against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). This is a spiritual battle against our adversary, the devil, who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
We hate the darkness and underlying evil, and we grieve the resulting bloodshed and pain. Yet Jesus still says, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). God’s love reaches not only those suffering under this oppression, but it reaches even into the ranks of Islamic State. Just as God transformed Saul into Paul through an encounter with Jesus, so can he transform today’s persecutors into tomorrow’s evangelists.
» Read full story and watch the related Prayercast video.
» See also two inspiring pieces: a video about an Iraqi Christian child extending forgiveness to those who displaced her family (SAT-7) and the story How Libya’s Martyrs Are Witnessing to Egypt (Christianity Today).
Source: Godreports, February 25, 2015
Pastor Adrian Rodriguez has been preaching the gospel, translated by his wife, to about 30 people every Sunday in a church on the outskirts of Hartford, Connecticut, and not one of the congregants is Christian.
“We’re dealing with very hardcore Muslims,” he says of the immigrant refugees from the Middle East who are drawn to his church. “They’re very indoctrinated. But God is speaking to their hearts.”
Pastor Adrian’s response to America’s burgeoning Muslim enclaves is perhaps Christianity’s best model: View them with eyes of compassion, not with eyes of suspicion.
Source: various, via Pat Noble
Three of the four gospel writers record that Jesus warned that in the last days, “nation shall rise up against nation.” For many years I assumed this meant political nations going to war as we saw in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Greek word translated nation, though, is the same as is used in the Great Commission of Mathew 28, which says “…go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”
While reading headlines for this edition I found many stories about “ethne rising up against ethne.” Take a look:
» Foreign Shop Owner Set Alight in South Africa (Al Jazeera)
» Cracking Down on Illegal Workers (Crossroads Arabia)
» Pakistan: Stop Forced Return of Afghans (Human Rights Watch)
» Two Charts Showing That “Deterring” Migrant Boats Is Failing (IRIN)
» What Would You Do if ISIS Was Approaching and Safety Was Only 70 Miles across the Sea? (The Independent)
» Afghan Refugee on National Geographic Cover Embroiled in ID Row and Vulnerable Families Bear the Brunt of Norway’s Crackdown on Asylum Seekers (The Guardian)
Source: Christian Aid Mission, February 19, 2015
Adept at gently answering the hostilities of radical Hindus, threatening Muslims, and suspicious government authorities, a pastor in northern India found himself facing an inflammatory media question last December.
Amid a roiling controversy about religious conversion in India, an interviewer from a Delhi television station asked the pastor and leader of an evangelistic ministry in Uttar Pradesh, whether conversions should be allowed. High-level Hindu nationalists were proposing that conversions be prohibited.
Working in an area where harassment from radical Hindus preempts public evangelistic events and nearly half of the residents are Muslims whose prohibition of leaving Islam sometimes leads to violence, the pastor appeared to be driven into a corner wherein anything he said would pour fuel onto the fires of controversy.
He surprised the journalist by answering that he was not only against forced conversion, but “totally against any religious conversion.”
“Jesus never taught about religious conversion,” Sankar said. “He taught about conversion of the heart, and that we preach.”
The interviewer pressed him, asking him if he converted people.
“I cannot convert people. I teach them from the Bible what we believe, and the law in our country is that everyone is free to preach his or her religion, and everyone is free to change his religion,” he said. “But if you want to talk about that, I share what I believe, and it’s Jesus who converts them. It is Jesus who changes their heart, and if they start coming to my church, it is not my problem. It is his problem. Go and ask him!”
People in India, he said, don’t want to hear about Christ. They already know about him, with many counting him among their hundreds of gods. Rather, they want to see him.
Source: Lausanne Movement, February 12, 2015
Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians met together in Limassol, Cyprus, January 26-30 to discuss, pray, and work towards reconciliation.
The Lausanne Initiative for Reconciliation in Israel/Palestine (LIRIP), an initiative of the Lausanne Movement, hosted the conference. Its vision is “to promote reconciliation within the body of Christ and our wider communities in Israel and Palestine by creating a network that encourages, under the auspices of the Lausanne Movement, models of gospel-based, Christ-centered reconciliation that will have prophetic impact in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Each day the participants studied Through My Enemy’s Eyes: Envisioning Reconciliation in Israel–Palestine, by participants Salim J. Munayer and Lisa Loden.
Richard Harvey, British Messianic Jewish theologian and Co-Chair of LIRIP, said:
“Our discussions were cordial and mutually respectful, but we did not flinch from addressing difficult issues and frankly expressing our disagreements. Salim and Lisa’s book is a most valuable resource for all who are interested in the challenges and possibilities of reconciliation in the region.”
Palestinian Christian Munther Isaac, Co-Chair of LIRIP and Professor at Bethlehem Bible College, added:
“We met each day to pray and read the Scriptures together, sharing our perspectives and recognizing our differences. It is important for our communities to talk to one another openly and in a Christian spirit. Reconciliation in our context is a very challenging and difficult endeavor, but the cross compels us to walk in this path.”