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Missions Catalyst 4.16.14 − World News Briefs

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 10:18

In This Issue: The unstoppable gospel

Greetings!

As Christians around the world gather to celebrate the Resurrection, we’re reminded that the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is also at work in and through his Church. Today’s news briefs include stories of that power made manifest.

Blessing,
Pat

About Us

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!

Pat Noble has been the “news sleuth” for Missions Catalyst since 2004. In addition to churning out the news, she is working to create a SWARM (Serving World A Regional Mobilizers) in Northern New York using the NorthernChristian.org website. You can connect with her at www.whatsoeverthings.com.

 

 

UKRAINE: Unity and Spiritual Awakening

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:55

People of all denominations pray together each day in the public square in Kharkiv, Ukraine (photo by Sergey Baliuk).

Source: Rostyslav Stasyuk, Ukrainian Bible Society, via United Bible Societies, April 2, 2014

The dramatic events in our country have led to a remarkable unity and a spiritual wakening across the nation. It has been amazing to see the solidarity between representatives of different religions. … Last week, Archbishop Eustratius of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate), shared the astonishing news that Crimean Tatars − the Muslim minority in the disputed territory of Crimea − have offered to host the church’s services in their mosques.

“They said that if it became difficult for our priests and parishioners to pray in our churches in Crimea, they would make room for us in mosques. They have also assured that they would help protect our rights,” said the archbishop.

“Over the past month, as the situation in Crimea and the southeastern regions has escalated, churches, and individual Christians have become very active in speaking out and sharing the hope and encouragement found in the Bible. Christians of different denominations have been fasting and praying together for peace and wisdom for Ukraine’s leaders and other world leaders involved in the situation.

In Eastern Ukraine, prayer meetings are held every morning in the central squares of Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Dnipropetrovsk. In the city of Lviv in Western Ukraine, a 15-minute prayer session is held every hour from 9am to 9pm in the central square. In Kiev, the prayer tents that were erected during the protests in Maidan square are still there, and many people still come and use them as places of prayer.

The same kind of thing is happening in almost every city and town in the country.

» Full story with pictures.

» See also Missionaries Expect God to Work in the Midst of Eastern Ukraine Crisis (Commission Stories) and “Holy Desperation” in Ukraine (Baptist Press).

INDIA: Eunuchs Coming to Christ

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:54

Source: Mission Network News, April 11, 2014

Eunuchs. Castrated males. There are about 1 million of them in India. Eunuchs are ignored by society. They form their own communities. Are people reaching them with the gospel? Are they ignored by Christians, too? A worker with Scriptures in Use (SIU) says yes, but not any more.

“We introduce storytelling to cultures that are non-literate, or what we call traditional oral learners. … Jesus told stories. He told parables. He allowed the story of the parable to speak to the hearts of the individual listener.”

[SIU's] India partner became what’s called a “well-wisher” to the eunuchs in a community in Orissa State. As the relationships were established, the storytelling began. It started with 14 [participants]. The stories began with the Fall and continued through to the New Testament. “For three days we shared stories and then asked questions about the stories. At the end of the three days, we finally got to the Gospels. When it was done, all 14 of them accepted the Lord.”

It wasn’t a one-time thing. “We’re seeing some significant changes in them personally and then this desire to begin, in some way, to share their faith with fellow eunuchs and their families.”

» Read full story.

» Following India’s ongoing elections? You might be interested in this article about how Indian Christians view them (Christianity Today).

THAILAND: Believer Sold His Own Blood to Help Bible Students

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:52

Source: God Reports, April 2014

“Teaching the Karen tribal people is such a privilege,” [write missionaries from the California-based organization, Pastoral Training of Asia]. “Serving in the refugee camp with no electricity [or] running water and pit toilets [is] always eye opening. Those living there are happy, not complaining but rather glad for the safety from … the hands of the Burmese soldiers.”

“We went to a memorial service of a deeply dedicated believer. He had a heart to help Bible school students and the only way he could give was to sell his own blood. Unfortunately, he gave so much that he weakened his own condition, got sick, and died. He gave his all to equip others to proclaim the gospel.

“The sense of love and unity in this Christian community is a wonderful thing to witness; may it spread to our shores and to our hearts and churches as well.”

» Read full story.

» Readers might also be interested in Refugee Survey − Most Do Not Want to Go Back to Burma (Karen News).

WORLD: Potential Reach of Scripture Recordings Climbs to 80 Percent

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:50

Source: Faith Comes By Hearing, April 10, 2014

Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) recently added 16 languages to their expanding catalog of recorded Scripture. Now at 813 languages, FCBH’s recordings as a whole represent a potential outreach to more than 5.7 billion people in 189 countries − 80% of the world’s population.

Of the current releases, Tajik is the largest people group, with more than 4.4 million speakers, while the smallest is Cree Plains, spoken by about 260 people, primarily in Canada. Combined, these newest releases represent over 10.2 million people who now have God’s Word in audio available in their heart language.

FCBH has seen the growth of a small tape lending library established in 1972 to what is now the world’s largest resource of digital Scripture content.

» Read full story. This Easter season, FCBH encourages you to gather your family and listen to a New Testament account of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in an audio drama format.

CHINA: Christianity in Chinese Society

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:49

Source: OMF International, Global Chinese Ministries Newsletter, April 2014

Religion is flourishing in China − particularly evangelical Christianity and Buddhism. The government is now taking a more benign view of the role of religious believers in society. A conference on the role of Christianity in Chinese society was held in Shanghai last October. Government official Wang Xinhua stated: “The government welcomes the support of the church. We lack the resources to meet all the needs we face, so we need religious organizations in order to do so.”

The government particularly has in mind the challenge of caring for the elderly who number several hundred million.

There is every reason to foresee that the Chinese church will continue to grow, mature, consolidate, and reach out in effective evangelism in the coming decades. Some Chinese academics advising the government even believe the church is on course to total 200-300 million [Protestants] in the next 30 years or so. This will make the Chinese church far and away the largest church in the world. Is it any coincidence that this is happening just as China is poised to become a world power?

» Full story has further analysis of the state of the Church in China.

YEMEN: Do You Want to Know More about Jesus?

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:44

Source: OM News, April 9, 2014

Yemenis are responding to Christian media. “Anas,” a local believer, was following up a contact, a young man, by phone. He said, “I am calling because you wanted to talk about Jesus. Is this true?” The young man responded, “Jesus is not here; I think he went to the capital and will be back next week.” Since the Arabic name for Jesus is not unknown in Yemen, Anas wondered whether the fellow was confused or just crazy, and the call ended.

God soon after prompted Anas to visit the contact in person − a risky decision, yet he did so in obedience. When he arrived, the young man explained, “Shortly before you called, I had a dream in which a bright shining figure told me that someone named Anas would call me and tell me more about Jesus. When you did call, I thought, this can’t be happening. So I acted crazy because it made me afraid.”

The young man brought together nine other friends to hear more, and they continue to study the Scriptures together with Anas. This is Arab culture, to do all things together, including a spiritual journey.

» Read full story.

» See also Sacrifice, reflections on Easter in an Arab Muslim country (Arab World Media).

 

Missions Catalyst 4.9.14 – Practical Mobilization

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 08:20

In This Issue: Passing on Prayer

About Us

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!

About Shane Bennett

Shane has been loving Muslims and connecting people who love Jesus with Muslims for more than 20 years. He speaks like he writes – in a practical, humorous, and easy-to-relate-to way -  about God’s passion to bring all peoples into his kingdom.

» Contact him to speak to your people.

 

Passing on Prayer: Practical Ideas on Praying for the World

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 08:15

Practical Ideas to Help You, Your Friends, and Your Church Pray for the World 

By Shane Bennett

Here’s the deal: Most Christians don’t pray for the world. No big surprise there. This “world” thing is most of my life and I still struggle to pray for it! Christians who don’t pray for the world don’t do so because they’re bad or carnal or somehow inferior to big-time missions people. We don’t pray for the world because we’ve got a whole lot of world right up in our faces, pulling on our pant leg, texting us after we’ve gone to bed.

And it’s tough to remember to pray for people you don’t know, whose names you can’t pronounce and whose cities you’ll never visit. (To be honest, there’s also the possibility we don’t believe prayer matters. That’s a subject for another article, maybe even another author!)

My hunch is still that many Christians, maybe most, would pray for the world if they were equipped and reminded. And you and I can do that.

Andrew Murray said, “The man (or woman) who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” Do you want to make a great contribution? Here are tools and ideas in six categories designed to facilitate global intercession. Dive in.

1. Deck the Halls

When our family lived in Holland, our neighborhood was haunted by a small, furtive band of shifty-eyed malcontents who got paid (perhaps in narcotics?) to slap up posters on every flat, semi-stable surface in the city center. They always seemed to be just one step ahead of the law, and neither their dog nor baby looked to be eating well.

Your church has walls and you have a message to get across. But don’t be like the malcontents; go above board on it. Ask permission. And ask early. Prime bulletin board space was reserved months in advance in one church I worked for!

Once you’ve secured permission, make it big and beautiful (like this) and readable from half the distance to the opposite wall! Offer clear, bold prayer requests and flyers people can take with them.

If you’ve got the digital chops to maintain it, consider leapfrogging technologies to a couple of flat-screen TVs with scrolling prayer info from the ministries your church supports. I’ve got friends who pull this off well, and they're in a church that isn’t big. Maybe you can do it too.

2. Use the Newsletter Better

Does your church publish a monthly newsletter or a weekly bulletin? Does it ever include questionable clip art of a sunset with a scripture on it or overly large, swirly font headlines in the kids’ section? Those are your clues that they might need more worthy content. You could kindly offer to provide that content in the form of winsome, well-written global prayer requests.

But where are you going to get that content? Glad you asked:

  • Operation World is still the gold standard for global prayer fodder.
  • You're welcome to reprint what you get from Missions Catalyst.
  • Additionally, check out Justin Long’s amazing Prayer Guide page to find dozens of sites and publications packed with prayer possibilities. If you publish a prayer guide that’s not yet on Justin’s page, let him know.

3. Please Remind Me

I frequently invite Perspectives students to subscribe to Missions Catalyst because it will provide a weekly dose of, “Yes, I believe in this stuff.” Sometimes all it takes it a little poke in the brain to help us pray for things we really want to pray for. Since you’re probably not going to text all of your friends once a week to remind them to pray for the world, here are some resources that might accomplish that for you.

  • Subscribe to Global Prayer Digest: This can give you and your friends a venerable and effective daily dose of global prayer.
  • Luke 10.02 Prayer: Ask people to set an alarm on their phone for 10.02 am to remind them to pray as Jesus instructed, “Father, send laborers into your harvest!”
  • Prayer token: Give people something to carry with their keys or change to remind them, maybe multiple times a day, to pray for the world. Consider glass gems, tiny globes, foreign coins, or maybe a poker chip that says, “All In.”

4. More than Cat Videos, Celebrity Updates, and Politics?  

Brilliant, kind people have harnessed the power of the Internet for good and made it easier for us to pray for the planet with these great sites:

  • Joshua Project’s Unreached People Group of the Day. It now comes in app form as well!
  • The International Mission Board has given us an amazing gift with this interactive map of unreached/unengaged people groups. And you don’t have to be Southern Baptist to join!
  • World in Prayer is my new favorite website! Started by St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lodi, California, World in Prayer is now produced by an all-volunteer team of 15 members, living in three countries (two continents), and representing a half dozen different denominations. They write beautiful prayers of petition and thanks in response to changing global situations.

5. Putting Your Prayers Where Your Wallet Is

I’m helping some visionary friends launch Praelude2020, an online effort to facilitate cross-cultural workers raising 24/7 prayer and full funding. It involves prayer partners selecting a 20-minute window in a worker’s week and committing to pray for them some time during that window. The worker adds current prayer requests to the site, maybe once or twice a week.

An hour before the pray-er's selected time, they receive an email or text message to remind them their time slot is approaching and provide the current prayer requests. There's also a link to click indicating they’ve prayed. That click gets reported to the worker which, you might imagine, is very encouraging!

The weekly prayer commitment is coupled with a monthly financial donation. We hope to see tons of workers in tons of agencies using this to get seriously prayed for and sent into their work.

6. Some of the Best Prayers Come from Little Kids

  • Kids on Mission Pray: This is a gorgeous suite of downloads and information to lead kids through a focused prayer project for a “forgotten” people or city. Thank you, dear IMB friends!
  • Kidzana's prayer cards guide kids and those who care about them in a full month of praying for the needs of children all around the world. And they’re free!
  • Check out some DVDs from the world-changing radicals at Bethel that help you teach teams of children about healing the sick and raising the dead!

Conclusion

I don’t want to be your mom or anything, but can I ask you to do three things?

  1. Look back over this list and ask God to highlight one or two of these ideas for you to begin implement this week, along with one or two friends to share them with.
  2. Please post in the comments your cool idea that didn’t make my list. There’s a world full of wisdom out there. I’d love for us all to benefit from yours.
  3. Please think of one or two friends, mission committees, or organizations that would be blessed by this list and forward it to them. Thanks.

May God hear our prayers and answer them beyond what would could even ask or imagine.

Missions Catalyst 4.2.14 – World News Briefs

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 11:25

In This Issue: Voices from Russia and its neighbors

About Us

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!

Pat Noble has been the “news sleuth” for Missions Catalyst since 2004. In addition to churning out the news, she is working to create a SWARM (Serving World A Regional Mobilizers) in Northern New York using the NorthernChristian.org website. You can connect with her at www.whatsoeverthings.com.

 

 

RUSSIA: Jesus Appears to Buddhist Woman

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 11:15

Source: SEND International, via God Reports, March 28, 2014

Yulia was raised by educated Buddhist parents living in Russia. By local standards, they were making it. Her family regularly visited the local shrine to worship and pay their respects to Buddha. Although her father was an engineer and her mother a biochemist, Yulia failed to get an education and did not enjoy her job cleaning houses.

When her father died suddenly, her mother slid into a spiral of depression, alcoholism, and abuse. Day after day, fights and arguments ensued and there were more and more problems. One day, when Yulia was 21, her mother – in a fit of drunken rage – told her to leave. Her mother’s last hateful words were, “Just leave. I don’t even care. And if you die, I won’t even cry.”

In the depths of her despair, Yulia did an accounting of her life. Her mother told her she did not care and her so-called friends abandoned her at the time of her greatest need. She had no education and hated her job. So she decided to take her life …

» Read full story, and pray for people like Yulia who want to give up.

» See also The Power of the Book, about a Moldovan man who found hope and new life from reading the Bible (OM News).

UKRAINE: Street Children Lost amid Political Turmoil

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 11:12

Source: Christian Aid, March 13, 2014

There’s a hidden segment of Ukrainian society that is receiving little attention in the midst of the nation’s  political and economic clamor – its tens of thousands of street children.You won’t see them because they find sanctuary in the basements of abandoned buildings or crouch next to hot water pipes in a system of tunnels running underneath city streets.

To stave off feelings of cold and hunger, they sniff glue. The resulting “high” may offer temporary escape from the misery of their existence, but it can’t give them what they need most – the joy of a loving family, food, and shelter.

Most of these kids are “social orphans” who have at least one parent at home. Tired of living in an environment of neglect or physical abuse, they prefer to take their chances surviving as best they can on the streets where at least they enjoy freedom.

According to UNICEF, in Kiev alone there are some 20,000 homeless children. While the true figure is difficult to determine, more than 100,000 boys and girls are estimated to live on the streets in cities throughout Ukraine.

» Full story reports on Christian Aid’s ministry to street children. » See also In Their Own Voices, a five-minute clip produced by Serious Pictures (YouTube) and this interactive map, Human Trafficking Patterns Mapped in Asia (IMB Asia Stories).

Editor’s Note: April 12 is the International Day of the Street Child.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: A Plea for Official Recognition of Evangelical Churches

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 11:09

Source: World Evangelical Alliance, March 19, 2014

On March 10-14, 2014, Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), participated in the third “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference hosted by Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, where he spoke about the importance of peace building. He also met with Israeli and Palestinian government representatives, urging them to grant official recognition to evangelical churches.

“While Christians in both Israel and Palestine have the freedom of worship there are still some significant injustices that need corrective action,” said Dr. Tunnicliffe in his speech on Thursday evening. “Evangelical Christians have dwelled in this land for many years and yet their churches do not have official recognition by the State. It is beyond time, that this recognition should be granted.”

Unlike the established traditional denominations, evangelical churches currently do not enjoy some of the basic rights related to marriage, burial, and other religious issues.

“I call upon the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authorities to grant this recognition,” Dr. Tunnicliffe continued, and stated: “This is not only a call for justice and democracy but it will also create a more stable context. Evangelical Christians in this region make a contribution to building a prosperous and thriving community. Treating them as third class citizens does not empower them to reach such a shared goal or even remain in the land.”

» Read full story. Watch Dr. Tunnicliffe’s opening remarks at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference (YouTube).

WORLD: Pray for April Elections

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 11:07

Source: WIN Reporter, April 2014

Elections can indeed change the course of nations. Pray for fair elections, free from rigging and manipulation. Ask the Lord to raise up men and women who will serve with integrity, righteousness, and justice so corruption and graft can be put to an end. Pray that the Lord appoints those of his choosing to fulfill his purposes.

Afghanistan: April 5 election for President
India: April 7 start of elections for Lok Sabha (People’s Assembly)
Indonesia: April 9 election for House of Representatives
Guinea-Bissau: April 13 election for People’s National Assembly and president
Algeria: April 17 election for President
Iraq: April 30 election for Council of Representatives

“He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Daniel 2:21

ARABIAN PENINSULA: Sheiks Import Bibles

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 11:01

Source: OM News, March 21, 2014

Greg Kernaghan, a writer for OM International, traveled through the Arabian Peninsula in November 2013. He discovered authentic hospitality, passionately committed Christians and a sense of good things to come. He observed and listened to the hearts of Christian workers who have invested decades in understanding and loving their Arab neighbors.

Greg wrote a series of articles from the perspective of the OM workers in the Middle East, their story and their dreams, in their own words, fastidiously avoiding using real names and places so that the story itself may be told widely.

» The most recent story, Sheiks Legally Import Bibles, tells the story of a group of Muslim leaders struggling with and coming to the conclusion that people in their country should have the opportunity to read the Gospels. Don’t miss it!

Missions Catalyst 3.26.14 – Resource Reviews

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 16:37

In This Issue: Resources for collaboration, the changing face of persecution, and more

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!

Want more? Follow us on Twitter.

Marti Wade is a writer, speaker, and project manager for the Church Partnerships Team at Pioneers. As a mission mobilizer, she has also trained and sent out many short-term teams to do relationship-based research to serve among the world’s least-reached peoples.

Marti has managed and published Missions Catalyst since 2004 and is the author of Through Her Eyes, a book about the lives of women serving cross-culturally in the Muslim world. She and her husband Chris live in Oregon.

VIDEO: Collaboration

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 16:34


Source: Create International Taiwan, via visionSynergy

Mission historical Stephen Neill wrote that Christian missionary work is the most difficult thing in the world, adding that it is surprising that it should ever been attempted! Yet amazing things happen when Christians work together, don’t they?

Check out the short animated video Collaboration – Reaching the Unreached through On-field Partnerships (itself the product of several mission groups working together).

This video also provides a nice example of storytelling through visual communication, too. Maybe, after watching it, you could take a moment to pray for Create’s (YWAM) School of Cartooning and Animation for Missions which is currently being offered in Taiwan, in Chinese and English. May God use it to equip and reach many.

» See also visionSynergy’s partnership resource repository, with ebooks, case studies, courses, field guides, and more.

VIDEO: The Changing Faces of Persecution

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 16:30

Source: Family Research Council, March 19, 2004

In what countries are Christians most likely to be persecuted? Who is being persecuted, and by whom? According to Todd Johnson, patterns have changed radically in the past 100 years.

In a Washington D.C. lecture, Johnson, Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, draws on research from The Atlas of Global Christianity and Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians to provide a thoughtful overview of shifts within both global Christianity (e.g., from north to south) and global persecution (e.g., from state-sponsored to society-based) as well as offering ways we can respond.

This presentation may be particularly helpful if you write or speak on these or related topics, as the contents are both well researched and clearly communicated.

» Watch the video (47 minutes).

» See also Ed Stetzer’s recent interview with Dr. Philip Jenkins about global Christianity (Christianity Today).

BOOK: When Missions Shapes the Mission

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 16:18

Source: B&H Publishing Group

When Missions Shapes the Mission: You and Your Church Can Reach the World, by David Horner. B&H Publishing Group, 2011. 261 pages. Veteran senior pastor David Horner here addresses fellow pastors and church mission leaders about the low level of commitment to the biblical mandate for global missions in our churches. He paints a sometimes painful picture of the current situation in many of our churches and denominations, where even those who seem to be leading the way in missions giving and sending are in fact investing resources disproportionately in their own contexts (e.g., doing more to support nearby Christian colleges and local programs than global outreach). Horner also helps the reader recognize the major obstacles to kingdom-focused ministry and lessons to be learned from past mission movements. Finally, he describes the results of a survey of 100 evangelical (North American) churches sharing their top ten best practices in fostering a strong missions culture, sharing some of the specific tactics as well as addressing objections and concerns in each area. When Missions Shapes the Mission is a challenging and ultimately persuasive and practical book for churches discontent with their status quo and wanting to move forward.» Learn more or get a copy for US$12.72 from Amazon (or elsewhere). Kindle edition is US$9.99.

EVENTS: Church Connections Tour

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 15:43

Source: Mission Nexus

Mission Nexus, in partnership with Church-based Immigrant Ministry Coalition and World Relief, invites pastors, church planters, and mission leaders to a one-day regional event to explore approaches, resources, and partnerships for developing church-based ministry to immigrants, refugees, and international students. Meetings are planned for Baltimore (June 5), Los Angeles (June 12), Toronto (June 17), Chicago (June 19), and Atlanta (June 26).

Each event will include case studies from churches in the U.S. and Canada and presentations by leaders with on-the-ground experience as well as table-group discussions exploring practical application and next steps. Registration includes lunch  and a copy of Strangers Next Door: Migration, Immigration, and Mission by J.D. Payne (also one of the presenters).

» Learn more or register. You can also download a free, related article by World Vision’s Jenny Yang, Immigrants in the US: A Missional Opportunity.

» See also the Association of Christians Ministering to Internationals, sponsoring a national conference in Atlanta, GA May 29-31.

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