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How are YOU doing? | World News Briefs

You’re probably feeling a range of emotions these days. Can you express them? This emotional word wheel by Geoffrey Roberts might help. (Thanks to Flowing Data.)

  1. WORLD: Five Ways Isolation Can Radically Deepen Your Faith
  2. INDIA: Gospel Opportunities Amid COVID-19
  3. SRI LANKA: Hints of New Anti-Conversion Bill
  4. HAITI: From Sorcerer to Church Planter
  5. RESOURCES: Updates and Additions

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While we were waiting in the checkout line last week, the customer ahead of me asked, “How are you doing?” It wasn’t the “How ya doin’?” I’m accustomed to. It was more like “How are YOU doing? Are you okay in all of this?” Maybe the question was prompted by the magenta ink smear on my nose. (I was there to buy printer ink.) But I could tell the stranger was really concerned.

Times like these bring out the best and worst in people. My dear sister Andrea mentioned in our last in-person home group meeting that she is not always “the best version” of herself. For days after that sweet time of fellowship I pondered her words.

Sometimes we don’t have the right words to answer the question, “How are you?” Hence the word wheel above. For more thoughts on this all-important question, read The Greatest Gospel Question of This Moment: “How Are You Doing?” (Christianity Today).

In case you’re wondering, I’m feeling thankful and hopeful.


WORLD: Five Ways Isolation Can Radically Deepen Your Faith

Source: Open Doors, March 27, 2020

Could God use this time of isolation to spark a new personal revival in our faith?

If we take to heart some of the popular stories from persecuted Christians who’ve experienced separation—some in prisons, some on house arrest, and others as secret believers cut off from any contact with Christian community because of their faith—the answer is an emphatic yes.

Here are five ways God can radically deepen our faith in times of isolation and solitude—if we’re brave enough to let him.

  1. Isolation and solitude strip down our lives.
  2. Isolation and solitude reveal the current that carries us.
  3. Isolation and solitude form the geography for an authentic encounter with God.
  4. Isolation and solitude can expand our prayer lives.
  5. Isolation and solitude can increase our passion for his presence.

» Read more about these five ways to deepen your faith.

» Also from Open Doors, Stuck at Home? Worship with God’s People in These Five Songs.

INDIA: Gospel Opportunities Surface Amid COVID-19

Source: Mission Network News, March 30, 2020

Keeping the virus contained with 1.3+ billion people and a failed healthcare system is challenging, to say the least, but efforts are underway. Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi started a three-week national lockdown.

“Travel from one state to the next is prohibited; all transportation has been shut down. People are filled with all kinds of anxiety,” says Todd Van Ek of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India.

Typically, India is one of the world’s most difficult places to be a Christian. However, “persecution has radically decreased because people are so consumed with the coronavirus,” Van Ek says.

In fact, “Parliament was going to meet and consider a national anti-conversion law, but then they shut Parliament down so it didn’t even come up for discussion,” he adds. “So we see a lot of positive even in the midst of all the problems that come with COVID-19.”

As described here, the nationwide “shelter-in-place” order ended Mission India’s typical ministry activities. However, “we’re still doing ministry; just the way we’re doing it has changed,” Van Ek explains.

Daily life in the villages is changing, too. “India is 70 percent rural, so the impact in the villages is completely different than the impact in the major cities,” Van Ek says. “In the villages, people are conducting worship services outside their home. People have more time because there’s this lockdown going on, so they’re engaged in more conversations.”

» Read full story and other reports about ministry in these times from Mission Network News.

» Also read India’s Coronavirus Lockdown Leaves Vast Numbers Stranded and Hungry (New York Times).

SRI LANKA: Hints of New Anti-Conversion Bill

Source: Barnabas Fund, March 24, 2020

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa hinted that he is prepared to introduce an anti-conversion bill to “save this country” from falling into deep difficulties.

On March 2, Rajapaksa, a leading member of the majority Sinhala Buddhist community and brother of the country’s president, spoke shortly before the announcement of a general election, due to take place on April 25 but now postponed because of the coronavirus.

Addressing the annual convention of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, Rajapaksa outlined the “threats facing the Sinhala Buddhist nation.” He identified the conversion of “traditional Buddhist families to other religions” as a major “threat.”

» Full story includes responses from local Christians.

» Also read Legal Confusion in Sri Lanka Fans Flame of Buddhist Nationalist Hostilities, Sources Say (Christian Headlines).

HAITI: From Sorcerer to Church Planter

Source: Bible League, March 23, 2020

Thony, a 45-year-old father of three, comes from a community in Haiti where it is common to practice Voodoo. Thony not only practiced Voodoo, he called himself a sorcerer. He often worked with a woman who was a Voodoo priest, and they both served the spirits. During that time, Thony experienced attacks by these spirits, and the house of his priest partner was set on fire.

He recalls, “I became so afraid of that spiritual darkness that I decided to flee the area. That’s when I moved to a different community in Port-au-Prince.”

His life began to change for the better after his move. A pastor saw him struggling and offered to pay rent for Thony’s new home. Not long after, he was invited to attend a local church. He found new life in Christ when he went to church that day. That was 15 years ago. As he grew in his faith, he became more active in the church. Soon, the pastor suggested he attend church planter training. He says, “I was thrilled to be part of it!”

Thony loved the sense of community he felt in the training as well as the materials he received. He notes, “They have helped me fulfill my ministry significantly. I have used the books to study the Word of God with other people and to facilitate the growth of the churches where I’m a leader now.”

Today, he pastors two churches. “I used to be a sorcerer, but I am a servant of God now. I know and understand the Word of the Lord better.”

» Read full story.

RESOURCES: Updates and Additions

Source: Marti Wade

In last week’s Resource Reviews we mentioned the film Free Burma Rangers would soon be available for download. Find it here.

We apologize for a broken link to the article Motus Dei: Disciple-Making Movements and the Mission of God. Find it on Academia.com.

The Upstream Collective is in the midst of a series of three webinars for churches and kindly posted recordings online. In the first one, a church mission leader shares helpful and creative ways churches can care for their missionaries during this crisis.

Crisis Consulting International is taking training online with an April 21-23 Virtual Field Security Seminar. Learn live via Zoom from CCI instructors the key principles of security stewardship while working in high-risk environments. Then, April 24, they will offer a Virtual Interrogation Management Workshop. Learn live via Zoom how to more effectively prepare for and manage hostile government interrogations.

Finally, two short videos you might find helpful:

VIDEO: Pray During COVID-19

Source: Prayercast

There is something you can do about the COVID-19 coronavirus. Many of us are in various degrees of quarantine and lockdown, but nothing will ever stop the power and reach of prayer.

» Join us in lifting our eyes from the headlines and fixing them on Jesus with this new prayercast video. This might be a good one to share with your church, group, or organization.

» Get regular updates on what God is doing during this season through various ministries from Mission Network News.

BOOK: Ephesiology

Source: William Carey Publishing

Ephesiology: A Study of the Ephesian Movement, by Michael T. Cooper. William Carey Publishing, 2020. 347 pages.

Acts 19:10 reports all who lived in the Roman province of Asia heard the word of the Lord during the two years Paul was in Ephesus. What does that mean? How in the world did it happen? And what can we learn from it that might help us today?

Ephesiology is a thorough exploration of this movement as described primarily in Acts 19, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Revelation 2-3. The author steers clear of contemporary models and debates; this may make this book more appealing to those who object to aspects of what they see elsewhere. What he seeks to offer is an accessible biblical missiology—or, as he puts it, a missiological theology of the Bible—for readers who want to see their world transformed as Ephesus was. This is not an easy read but a worth the effort.

» Learn more or purchase for US$9.99 (Kindle) or $15.99 (paperback) from Amazon or elsewhere. See also the Ephesiology website which includes a course, blog, and podcast.

» William Carey Publishing has also released a new, special edition of the late Steve Smith’s book Spirit Walk: The Extraordinary Power of Acts for Ordinary People. Take a look.

ARTICLE: Motus Dei, Disciple-Making Movements and the Mission of God

Source: Global Missiology

How does what we’re seeing in disciple-making movements today fit into our understanding of Missio Dei, the overarching mission of God? How much common ground might there be between those focused on catalyzing disciple-making movements and those with a broader, maybe more holistic understanding of mission?

Check out what author and missiologist Warrick Farah has to say as he explores how the topic connects with various (sometimes competing) conversations in the field of mission studies and introduces the term motus Dei, movement of God.

» Read the article. You might be interested in another from the author, A Missiology of Social Distancing: Ministry Innovation in the Midst of Biosecurity Events (Circumpolar).

FILMS: Streaming Sooner Than Expected

Sources: Various

Some of you may have seen Free Burma Rangers, a documentary we reviewed in January. The producers are working on digital delivery to replace theater screenings. Keep an eye on their website or social media channels if interested.

I Am Patrick, CBN’s new docudrama about Ireland’s patron saint, was to debut the very day major theater chains were shutting down. So now, for US$15, you can get it on DVD with simultaneous streaming. It’s a thoughtful, interesting, and well executed film. I recommend it.

» See also St. Patrick and the Great Commission, a piece I wrote for Pioneers USA.

EVENTS: All Online for April

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

Not surprisingly, event organizers cancelled or postponed the face-to-face event on our April events calendar. But check out these webinars and courses you can still participate in. I’m including a few for late March which may be of interest.

March 25 to April 1, Guilt, Shame, Fear… and Faith (online). Training course from the Center for Intercultural Training.

March 30 to April 6, Spiritual Warfare—the Super and the Natural (online). Training course from the Center for Intercultural Training.

March 30 to April 6, Onramp (online). Training course from the Center for Intercultural Training to help launch you into cross-cultural ministry.

April 1, God, Germs and Global Missions (online). Webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen. Free.

April 2, Mobilization: Helping Others Uncover Their Dreams and Callings (online). Global update provided by Beyond.

April 6 to August 9, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). Offered regularly; another course begins May 4.

April 9, TECHnically Connected: Navigating Distance on Virtual Teams (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

April 14, Engaging the Church as Senders (online). Webinar from the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Missions.

April 16, Character vs. Skill: Biblical Paradigms for Leadership (online). Nugget training from Beyond.

April 23, Overcoming through Prayer (online). Proactive prayer training from Beyond.

April 24 to May 24, 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World (global). Annual. Consider purchasing the (paper or electronic) 2020 prayer guides for kids and adults. Watch and share the promo video.

» View complete calendar. Submissions welcome. We are starting to see May events cancelled and will continue to make updates.

» Cancelled your mission trip? Still in wait-and-see mode? Standards of Excellence in Short-term Mission has posted the recording  of a March 17 webinar on COVID-19 and Mission Trips with specialists in several areas. No cost. Check it out.

Wisdom | Encouragement | Hope

Our feeds and inboxes are full of news about COVID-19. But how is the global Church responding? Read our roundup of stories. Find resources for church and ministry leaders. Pray on.

  1. TURKEY: Words of Wisdom as First Case of Coronavirus Announced
  2. CHINA: Fear Not!
  3. WORLD: Leading with Hope During the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
  4. IRAN: 70,000 Prisoners Released, Many Christians Still Jailed
  5. WORLD: How Coronavirus Is Affecting Refugees

TURKEY: Words of Wisdom as First Case of Coronavirus Announced

Source: SAT-7, March 16, 2020

As the first case of the coronavirus was announced in Turkey, the news and social media caused fear and panic.

“Because of the virus, we are seeing a consumption madness. In the news, we see empty shelves in markets as if we are running out of food, and this is making selfishness and greed apparent” [says a SAT-7 program host Volkan Er].

To inform SAT-7 TÜRK viewers about the coronavirus, a public service announcement was created, detailing the facts about the coronavirus, its symptoms, precautionary measures and travel advice.

“We must be sensible and calm,” [Er] continues to reassure viewers. “We trust our Lord, we have a living God. He is going to lead us. We have the opportunity to be a light to others and emphasize Christ in this situation. But first of all, we must be sensible.”

[In contrast with] other public service announcements, SAT-7 TÜRK concluded with a prayer:

“Lord, we bring all the people who are impacted by this epidemic before you. We pray in your name that the people who have this virus will be healed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

» Read full story.

CHINA: Fear Not!

Source: Asia Harvest, March 16, 2020

Many people have asked how the virus is affecting the Chinese churches in Wuhan and throughout China. Ironically, the brutal persecution launched by President Xi over the last few years has helped prepare the house churches for the current situation. Thousands of large congregations were broken down into small groups of five or six believers, who have been meeting together for prayer and Bible study in their homes.

Some Chinese churches set up online services since the virus began, but many of their websites and social media pages have been shut down by the government… Communist authorities have even taken the opportunity to let people know that their facial recognition technology works just as well when people are wearing masks.

As fear and trepidation spreads throughout the world along with the virus, we would like to encourage all believers to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, for “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Rather than worrying about what might go wrong, the Lord wants his children to look to Him in faith, because fear and faith cannot exist together, and the stronger of the two will always kill the other. Our job is to set our eyes on Jesus and his kingdom, for “without faith it’s impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

So, let’s not fear! God is, and always will be in total control. Although our lives look set to be disrupted for some time because of the economic effects of the pandemic, God is not yet finished his work in you or through you. Let us keep serving him while we have the opportunity. The Lord Jesus said: “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).

» Read full article for more scripture and encouragement.

WORLD: Leading With Hope During the Global Coronavirus Pandemic

Source: Lausanne Movement, March 17, 2020

If ever there was a time for prayers and supplications, this is such a time. Let us join together in united prayer as we pray for:

  • Governments and local authorities who bear large responsibilities in confronting this challenge
  • WHO and all health professionals who are working to safeguard public health
  • Industry leaders and workers in global workplaces that are taking precautions and making decisions to confront this challenge
  • Pastors, church leaders, and leaders of the community who provide care and guidance for those they lead

As a global family, this is a time to let the light of Christ shine his healing rays throughout the world. May the Lord, our Chief Shepherd and our Refuge, grant mercy and grace upon the nations of the world in this time of trouble and distress.

Below we have compiled a list of resources based on contributions from Lausanne leaders around the world. We hope this list will be helpful to you as you’re leading and discerning amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

» Read full article and visit a new, collaborative website, Coronavirus and the Church. It has lots of helpful resources for you and your church.

IRAN: 70,000 Prisoners Released, Many Christians Still Jailed

Source: Open Doors, March 17, 2020

“Recent reports indicate that the COVID-19 virus has spread inside Iranian prisons,” Javaid Rehman, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said in Geneva.

The immediate release freed an estimated 70,000 prisoners, including six Christians. However at least 11 believers serving longer-term, security-related sentences will remain imprisoned. That includes Christians like Nasser-Navard Gol-tepeh who has been sentenced to 10 years for “crimes against national security.”

Also known to be still in detention in Iran on charges related to the peaceful practice of their faith are nine Christian converts from the northern city of Rasht. Their five-year prison sentences were recently upheld, even though neither they nor their lawyers were permitted to attend the hearing. Five of the men are among the at least 11 Christians. They were arrested during raids on their homes and house churches.

Christian activist Mary (Fatemeh) Mohammadi was among the prisoners recently granted temporary leave from Qarchak women’s prison. In detention, she was severely tortured and beaten so badly that the bruises were still visible on her body three weeks later.

» Read full story.

» An interesting development from another region: the mayor of Seoul is pressing charges against the church at the center of Korea’s coronavirus outbreak (Huffington Post with links to other sources).

WORLD: How Coronavirus Is Affecting Refugees

Source: Preemptive Love Coalition, March 3, 2020

As the number of coronavirus cases grow worldwide—including in many of the places we serve—we’re checking in with our refugee friends. Refugees and displaced families the world over are hit particularly hard by widespread crises like this one.

Here’s how the coronavirus (or COVID-19) outbreak is impacting our displaced and vulnerable friends around the world.

» Read about refugees in Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, and Mexico.

7 Joys of a Mission Mobilizer

By Shane Bennett

I tend to be optimistic—one of many gifts from my mom. But sometimes these days the world at large assails a positive outlook. It’s as if the universe is saying, “Not today, buddy!” We’ve got growing Covid-19 concern. Markets are melting down. And a couple of nights ago, the gold fish I got for Persian New Year jumped out of his bowl to an inauspicious death on the kitchen counter.

But gloom and doom will not win the day. My glass is still half full. Spring is near, Jesus loves me, and I got married last week!

In February, I soberly warned of the seven sins of mobilizers. This month, with great pleasure, I dive into the seven joys of mobilizers: the particular charms, privileges, and delights of doing the crazy stuff we do.

1. The Weight of Glory

Lewis’s seminal sermon celebrates the honor, the staggering weight of glory, that we can be part of the divine pleasure. Could I bring joy to God? Even thinking that pings all of my “not worthy,” “not me,” “not likely” buttons! But it’s true! And as mobilizers, our privilege is to work hard, long, and well to see God glorified, to see God’s pleasure increase as his kingdom springs up all around the planet.

This is a pleasure—a gift for which I’m too rarely grateful, too seldom cognizant.

2. Life Beginning Among a New People

Many of us in the Missions Catalyst tribe mobilize people toward the ends of the earth, the unreached or unengaged peoples. We could pick easier things to do, right? Ah, but when it works, when the gospel begins to take hold in a new place, what a joy!

I remember sharing a story from the life of Jesus with a young Gambian guy who’d had no real previous interaction with the Bible. His wide-eyed, “There’s something about Isa” comment will probably stay with me to my death.

3. Joining Friends on Their Journey

Sometimes in Perspectives classes I’ll challenge students to tell me what they’re good at and I’ll tell them where they might contribute to reaching unreached peoples. I do that to pull the veil off their imaginations, to enable people to see in new ways the way God loves them and plans to employ them in his kingdom work.

I love to help people take their next step. Can you relate?

Occasionally we’ll really connect with someone or some family and get to watch, even participate, as their journey unfolds. That’s like drugs to me. I have friends who’ve served in North Africa, Turkey, and Italy at my direct invitation. They’ve filled my heart with hope and joy.

4. Love Beyond Boundaries

One of the many lessons embedded in the masterful story of the good Samaritan is God’s desire for us to love beyond those near us and like us. For mission mobilizers, this is part and parcel of our calling and our work. God’s glory and compassion for those beyond the established church motivate us in ways far superior to targeted triumphalism.

If we’re lucky, as we learn to love people far different from us and advocate for their best in God, we’ll realize in fresh ways how thoroughly God loves us.

Of course, this “loving those unlike me” can be hard work, frustrating, demoralizing, and sometimes apparently without fruit. But it’s a good work, both in the effect on the loved and the growth of the lover. It’s good for our souls, a gift really, to practice obeying the second greatest command. (Tweet this.)

5. Fresh Perspective

Whenever we learn about another people or culture in our efforts to advocate for them, our own hearts and minds are shaped and developed.

My work in recent years to mobilize church-planting efforts among Muslim migrants in Sicily has given me a chance to see in the smallest way how Sicilians view their island’s immigration situation. This, in turn, helps me understand how people in my own country, even my own church, view immigration.

My time mobilizing in Holland helped me see how differently Dutch people see the world than I do. This has challenged my thinking in areas of tolerance, cooperation, and frugality.

I’m particularly grateful for the many Arab, Indian, and Southeast Asian cultures that have impressed on me biblical truth regarding community and hospitality.

My mind is a happier, more interesting playground for having enjoyed the gifts of many diverse cultures. Yours, too?

6. Fantastic Food

Of particular note are the culinary gifts mobilizers receive. I would happily take seconds of almost everything someone from a different culture has ever given me. From the mango drinks a kind Arab shop keeper in Illinois shared with my kids to the watermelon in a Palestinian refugee camp… from baklava in a Turkish village to the South Asian feast an international student made for my family after he’d returned to America with his new wife. Ah, but God’s kindness has come through the food shared by many.

There may be no better way to introduce someone to a people group than to buy them some of their food! This is the mobilizer’s secret weapon. And of course, it’s rude to expect someone to eat alone! (Tweet this.)

7. Freedom to Dream

Here’s one of my favorite dreams: What if we prayed the Lord’s Prayer, asking, “May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” and God said, “Yes. I’m down for that! I say ‘Yes’ to that prayer!” What does it look like? How does it come about?

I sure don’t have all the answers, but I love that my job involves dreaming about them.

This is a gift, isn’t it? To give your mind and your time (at least some of it) to dreaming about how God will accomplish his purposes for our planet?

I’m currently wondering about what kingdom opportunities will open up in Syria. As I pray for peace, I look forward to days when the displaced will begin to return home, when reconstruction money will start to pour in, when thoughtful, loving Jesus-people from all over will give the best of their strength to come alongside and care for Syrians.

It’s going to happen, you know, this completing-the-Great-Commission thing. One day it will be done. Jesus would not have asked us to do it if that weren’t so. What a joy that we get to be a part.

Subversive Mobilization: What About the Coronavirus?

As mentioned above, one of the gifts God gives mobilizers is curiosity. We wonder and dream about kingdom advance. One of the things you are probably pondering right now is how the novel coronavirus affects our work. I am, too.

Three thoughts:

  • Grab Marc Van Der Woude’s free mini ebook to see how the Church dealt with a couple of previous similar issues.
  • If your short-term trip has been cancelled and you’d like to consider reaching out to refugees in the US, I’d love to hear from you.
  • Are you willing to share your thoughts regarding how this epidemic will shape our work in coming months? Please comment on Facebook, Twitter, our website, or by responding to this email.