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China: When one is arrested, another will pick up the work | World News Briefs

Recently, Open Doors met with Chinese church leaders so they could listen to each other’s stories and encourage one another during this season of escalating persecution. See story below.

In this issue:

  1. CHINA: When One Is Arrested, Another Will Pick up the Work
  2. JAPAN: Poised for Spiritual Awakening
  3. NIGERIA: Kidnapped Pastor Speaks from Captivity
  4. MYANMAR: More than 50 Churches Allowed to Reopen
  5. WORLD: New App Helps Create Global Small Groups

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CHINA: When One Is Arrested, Another Will Pick up the Work

Source: Open Doors, January 18, 2020

A sister from Central China shared how the police had shut down all the house churches in the region, warning pastors not to hold any more meetings.

“We are constantly on edge,” she said, “but our faith has grown and we are more determined than ever to see Christians in the area stand strong and not compromise their faith in Jesus. We have started many smaller meetings now, and more and more brothers and sisters are putting their hands up to act as mini house church leaders.

“The situation is tense, but we know God is on the move in spite of the restrictions. We held a regional leaders meeting and agreed that when one of us is arrested, another will pick up the work. We also decided to respond to the police respectfully and in love even if they yell at us or use physical force [in attempts to] make us surrender the names of other believers.”

» Full story includes comments from other Chinese Christian leaders and a video report from Open Doors CEO David Curry.

» Open Doors recently released the 2020 World Watch List Report about the top 50 countries where being a Christian comes with the highest cost and risk. Related stories include the Ten Most Dangerous Places for Christians and an article comparing the causes and results of persecution in the top two, North Korea and Afghanistan.

JAPAN: Poised for Spiritual Awakening

Source: International Mission Board, January 7, 2020

Prayer strategy leaders in Japan long to see the nation transformed by the hope of Jesus, and they’ve committed to pray daily for the nation. There is excitement and enthusiasm for what they see God doing. Rather than yielding to the darkness, they are invigorated by the light of the gospel. Across Japan, [we] are hearing reports of God doing amazing things that offer hope of what may come:

  • A church in the heart of a bustling shopping and social hub in Tokyo has been languishing. This church’s leaders wanted to know why Tokyo Baptist Church was healthy and growing. When they approached the church for answers, God opened the door for the leaders to speak of the importance of standing on the authority of Scripture and yielding to the lordship of Christ. Through ongoing discipleship efforts and prayer, this church could soon be revitalized and play a key role in reaching the city.
  • A healthy church near Yokohama has been holding festivals with remarkable results. The festivals allow local residents to meet Japanese Christians and see the joy they have found in Jesus. This has prompted people to visit the church following the festivals to learn more about what they have seen and heard. The pastor of the church is praying for God to reach ten million Japanese people by 2024.
  • Japanese people are choosing to listen to and believe the gospel as it is proclaimed during international sporting events, at ongoing festivals, and through personal relationships. Additionally, Japanese business people are learning from Christian business leaders how faith and business can intersect.

Increasing prayer, churches working together, and more people hearing and responding to the gospel through the church’s desire to engage the lost have all been precursors to spiritual awakenings in past generations. The signs point to a growing spiritual awakening in Japan.

» Read full story. The Olympic Games will come to Tokyo this summer; visit the Prayer page of IMB’s Olympic ministry website.

» For some perspective on urban Japan, see Every Country Highlighted on This Map Has a Smaller Population Than Tokyo.

NIGERIA: Boko Haram Executes Brethren Pastor

Source: Morning Star News, January 21, 2020

The Rev. Lawan Andimi had a treasured life—a loving family, an affectionate congregation, respect from his colleagues.

The kidnapped district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in Michika County, in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, had stated in a video that he trusted in God should he lose his life to Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram. The rebel militants executed the father of eight children on Monday [January 20], the head of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) confirmed [Tuesday, January 21].

Ahmad Salkida, a Muslim journalist who has been a primary means for Boko Haram to release information, reported in a tweet that the group beheaded Pastor Andimi on Monday afternoon.

CAN President Samson Ayokunle today confirmed in a comment to the Nigerian newspaper the Daily Post that Pastor Andimi had been executed.

Pastor Andimi had said in a Boko Haram video released by Salkida on January 5 that he hoped to be reunited with his wife, children, and colleagues.

“If the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God,” he said. “I want all people close and far, colleagues, to be patient. Don’t cry, don’t worry, but thank God for everything.”

Pastor Andimi, who also served as chairman of CAN’s local chapter, was kidnapped on January 2 when Boko Haram attacked two Christian communities in the area.

» Read full story. Heartbreaking. We were ready to publish a report highlighting the pastor’s January 5 statements when we saw the news that he had been killed. Please be in prayer for his family and community.

» Meanwhile, in Iran, a prominent Christian rights activist has disappeared.. This is a great time to pray for Iran (Prayercast).

MYANMAR: More than 50 Churches Allowed to Reopen

Source: Barnabas Fund, January 6, 2020

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) in control of the Wa Special Region in Myanmar (Burma), bordering China’s Yunnan province, has allowed at least 50 churches to reopen.

Local church leaders issued a plea for prayer when the China-backed, Communist influenced separatist group closed more than 100 churches in northern Shan State in 2018, demolishing some and banning the construction of new church buildings. At least 200 Christian leaders and workers were “investigated” and detained. All have since been released.

A Bible school was also shut down and 41 of its students arrested and forced into hard labor as military porters.

Local church leaders welcomed the reopenings and reported that most church buildings in the towns of Panghsang, Hopang, Kho Pang and Namphan are now open for worship, leaving only one church and a school building still closed.

[The region] is home to several ethnic groups including Wa, Kachin, Ta’ang, Lahu, Lisu, Kokang, Shan, Chinese, and Burman. Christians form the largest religious group in the region, estimated to be 30 percent of the population.

» Read full story or check out what seems to be the source of this report, which clarifies some details (The Irrawaddy).

WORLD: New App Helps Create Global Small Groups

Source: Mission Network News, January 7, 2020

Small groups typically revolve around local communities and churches, but technology is opening a window of connection.

The program is based on Whatsapp, a free messaging, video, and voice application. Sammy Tippit Ministries provides daily videos, resources, and training for small-group leaders to share. It’s up to the group leader to form and operate the group.

“We’re not providing the technology but we’re taking already existing technology and taking small groups and saying ‘form those groups where you can actually communicate on a daily basis,’” said Founder Sammy Tippit.

He doesn’t see these virtual groups as replacements for in-person small groups. The groups are intended for believers who are separated by distance to supplement traditional weekly in-person gatherings.

Currently, a group of believers in China who are unable to meet physically are using these resources to meet weekly for devotions and prayer.

» Read full story.

» Read about another trend affecting global ministry, the migration of Christians and rise of diaspora congregations (The Gospel Coalition).

Start Something New… 10 Ideas for 2020

New year. New decade. New start.

By Shane Bennett

Yeah, it feels a little cheesy and cliché, but honestly the whole new year thing works for me. Fresh starts feel invigorating and hopeful. Things haven’t been screwed up yet!

Are you up for some new beginnings? I’ve started reading through the Bible and I’m doing a tiny bit of daily journaling. Some really big new stuff is brewing for me too, but you’ll have to read the list below to get to it.

Maybe you have so many plates spinning already that the opposite sounds good to you. Remember, Bob Goff is known to say, “You can quit anything on a Thursday!” If you’re reading this when it lands, you’ve got a little lead time to mitigate the damage of the plate(s) you let clatter to the floor!

If “start something new” works for you, as it does for me, here are some ideas. I’ll try to let you know the ones I’m taking up, as well as the ones that I think you’d be a crazy, faith-filled superhero to try!

1. Offer an idea that feels risky.

There’s so much power in, “What if we thought about this…?” Maybe you hang with Francis Chan, Malcolm Gladwell, and Elon Musk (seriously, how cool would it be?) and you never float out an idea that doesn’t get a double eye roll and head shake. But if your tribe is a bit more ordinary, it could be that you are thinking of some things they haven’t already thought of. Yes, you! And maybe God is doling out some chutzpah right now to enable you to suggest, “We could do something really cool. What about this…?” Something for your church, your community, or the world. We won’t complete the Great Commission without some of us somewhere suggesting we do something substantial in a new place.

And if you do get shot down? You won’t be alone. Remember William Carey, for one, famously feels your pain!

2. Launch a prayer effort for an unreached people.

If you don’t have a people on your heart, consider those among whom your friends are working or maybe a group your church is involved with. If you find no natural connection, go to this list of the 31 Largest Frontier Peoples. Pick one, start to learn, and gather friends to pray.

3. Provide Perspectives.

This could legit change your life. It’s one of the crazy, super-hero options on this list! Sit down over coffee with three intrepid friends. Ask God and each other, “Should we bring Perspectives to our town?!?” It will mean a lot of work and some financial risk and you’ll get stretched in uncomfortable ways. But dang, will you leave a dent. If you started scheming tomorrow evening, you might be able to pull off a class in the fall. I would be delighted to dream with you.

4. Nudge your church toward the unreached.

Pastors deal with multiple messes. Truckloads of poo, really. I don’t want us to contribute to that. Nonetheless, you might be able to start the train rolling toward looking at fresh partnerships among unreached peoples. If you could use some help, let’s chat. The cool org I work for, Healing Nations, specializes in helping small to mid-sized churches connect with mission situations. I would love to kick some ideas around with you.

Pioneers, Missions Catalyst’s host organization, would also be a great starting place. And you may know others.

5. Initiate a friendship with someone outside of your normal sphere.

This could be a Muslim, a Hindu, a Democrat, a homeless person, a wealthy businesswoman, someone who’s transgendered, or an old white guy. (If you’re reading this and “an old white guy” would be out of your normal sphere, I’d really like to hear from you. I fear the Practical Mobilization tribe is, on the whole, more pale than I’d like.)

6. Write a book.

Seriously, you’ve been thinking about it! Do it! Just promise me you’ll pay a little bit to get the text edited and the cover designed by a pro. This one is on my goal list for 2020. It all feels pretty vague so far, but I’m asking God for the necessary direction.

7. Learn a lot about something.

I need to implement this one. I have a goal to raise the number of subscribers to the weekly email I write from 2148, where it stands today, to 5007 by the end of the year. I have almost no idea how to do that but am pretty sure that some people do and maybe they’ve written down things I could learn from. If you have some tips or would like to be one of those new subscribers, I’d be honored. Check it out here.

8. Go somewhere.

At the risk of bringing the wrath of Greta Thunberg on my head, I urge you to travel. Get out of Dodge. Visit a new neighborhood, a new city or a new country. Take some old friends and make some new ones when you arrive. If you do number five above at the same time, bonus points for you!

I sat next to a couple yesterday who’d been on more than 50 cruises. They said they liked to spend a third of the year on the water. I hesitate to judge them, but this much is true: If they can do that, you might be able to swing eating at a new ethnic restaurant or visiting a refugee center in a nearby city.

9. Take care of your soul.

Mission mobilizers tend to be an intrepid, hard-riding lot. We’re willing to overlook a lot for the sake of the cause. Maybe we’re no more soul-starved than the general Christian population, but we may be soul-starved while squawking endlessly about the purposes of God. The problems with this are not lost on me, at least right now, since I’m writing about them. I fear I often overlook or discount them, though. Want to join me in changing that?

10. Start a small group.

People need connection, community. Often it takes a catalyst, such as a person who will say, “Buy this book. Come to my house. I’ll make coffee. You bring donuts.” It’s not super complicated. First step could be to pick a good book. You can’t go wrong with either The Magnificent Story or Across the Street and Around the World. Then ask seven buds to read it with you and talk about it over coffee (or a beer if inspired by the Inklings!)

Bonus Idea

Get married! OK, odds are good this would be a bad idea for you; you are already married. I really just put it on the list so I could tell you I’m getting married! After some grueling years of pain, brokenness, and regret I’d never anticipated, light has broken on the horizon. By the time you read the March edition of Practical Mobilization, things will have changed considerably for me.

Conclusion

Let the rest of the tribe know which of these ideas you plan to implement (and the better ones you’ve come up with on your own!) I can’t really speak for all of us, but I’d love a chance to pray you out of the gate.

Remembering Rick Love

Mind if we pause for a moment (again, for many of us) to thank God for Rick Love, who recently passed away, and pray for Fran and the kids? My life was impacted by Rick in many ways, and perhaps yours was too. I was encouraged and inspired by his life right up to the point I read he’d gone to be with Jesus.

Remember the Loves with me. Remember that death will be defeated. But remember as well that your days are numbered. Mine too. Let’s make them count the way Rick did.

Read a brief bio of Rick (and others you may know) from Missio Nexus.

Bible 2020 | New Control Measures in China

Happy New Year!

Since the turn of the year (or decade) is a time of reflection, I’d like to submit to you some gems I’ve found while sleuthing for news.

  • First, thanks to Paul Neeley of Global Worship for pointing to this BEAUTIFUL poem. See especially item number 3. I am going to frame this one! Hope you like it.
  • We can always count on something thoughtful and challenging from INcontext. Read Just a Minute: 20/20 Vision.

Blessings for 2020 and beyond,
Pat

Note: Did you miss our January 1 issue of Missions Catalyst? It included several year-in-review and new-year items and our 2020 events calendar.

In This Issue

  1. WORLD: Bible 2020
  2. CHINA: New Measures to Control Religion Begin in February
  3. TAJIKISTAN: Pastor Freed after Three Years in Prison for Singing Extremist Songs in Church
  4. SOUTH ASIA: Elderly Peoples’ Fellowship
  5. MYANMAR: A Loud Bang in the Prayer Room after Eight Buddhists Accept Christ

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WORLD: Bible 2020

Bible 2020 is a year-long campaign encouraging us to speak the words of the Bible aloud across every country and nation. To get involved, join the global community using the app. More info below.

Source: Scripture Engagement, December 2019

“Imagine a world-wide community speaking the words of the Bible together across towns, cities, and continents. Lives will be changed! Together we will read, speak, and hear the words of the Bible each day.”

Bible 2020 is a year-long campaign encouraging us to speak the words of the Bible aloud across every country and nation. It [began] on January 1st, 2020. To get involved, join the global community using the app.

Bringing together the history of oral Bible tradition and the global reach of modern technology, Scottish Bible Society has developed the Bible2020 App, 366 days of short inspirational Bible verses that you can film yourself speaking and share with your community so that together we can cover the globe in God’s Word through the year. The app will collate the videos and post them on a wall, letting you see and hear the nations speak the words of the Bible.

» See full story with promo video.

» It is also Year of the Bible, an initiative of The Table Coalition (formerly Mission America Coalition), a ministry of Lausanne.

CHINA: New Measures to Control Religion Begin in February

Source: Worthy News, January 1, 2020

China will roll out new measures to further circumscribe the spiritual activities of its citizens on February 1, as state news reported [Monday, December 30] that the 42 articles of the Administrative Measures for Religious Groups had been approved.

The articles, which follow the ratification of the Regulations on Religious Affairs published in 2018 that have [caused] plaques of the ten commandments [to be] replaced by photographs of President Xi Jinping in state-run churches, oversee all a church community’s life, activity, and gatherings.

Article 17 states unequivocally that “religious organizations must spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party…educating religious personnel and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, supporting the socialist system, adhering to and following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

The process of “Sinicization” has already been well underway in state-run Three-Self Patriotic movement churches, with communist officials writing socialist-friendly sermons for pastors and the government reviewing plans to re-translate the Bible with a Chinese socialist edge on the way to creating a new religion.

» Read full story or a similar piece from a Catholic source, Asia News.

» See also: For China’s Underground Churches, This Was No Easy Christmas (LA Times). On the other hand, read this: Sudan Celebrates Christmas Publicly for First Time in Ten Years (Middle East Eye).

TAJIKISTAN: Pastor Freed after Three Years in Prison for Singing Extremist Songs in Church

Source: World Watch Monitor, December 18, 2019

A Protestant pastor sentenced to three years in prison for “singing extremist songs in church and so inciting religious hatred” has been freed three months early.

Kholmatov, who with wife Gulya has three children, was arrested on unspecified charges during an April 2017 raid on his church. Affiliated churches in the Sogd region were also raided and closed down earlier that year.

Kholmatov said, “I’d like to express my huge gratitude to all the people who supported and prayed for me, my family, and my church. All these three years I felt your prayers. They helped me to stand, they helped my precious wife and children, they helped the members of my church who were left without a pastor then [kicked out of] our building. Your prayers helped us to stand strong through all these difficulties, to grow spiritually, and to transform into the nature of our Heavenly Lord! Thank you from all my heart! Glory to God!”

» Read full story.

» See also: Tajik Authorities Detain 27 Suspected Members Of Banned Muslim Brotherhood along with an analysis piece, Four Issues Central Asia Faced in 2019 (and They’re Not Going Away) (RFE/RL).

SOUTH ASIA: Elderly Peoples’ Fellowship

Source: Global Recordings Network, December 2019

Note: Kate is a CMS missionary in South Asia. She recently wrote to GRN about her experience with using GRN’s resources.

Eighteen months ago, we started an elderly people’s fellowship at church. Four days a week 15-20 people over 70 years old meet at the church. Most of them are illiterate, and none of them went to Sunday school as children nor grew up in Christian homes. This group has provided an amazing opportunity to help participants grow deeper into God’s Word in a way that is accessible to them. It’s amazing how much they have grown!

We recently did a series on Joseph. We used the GRN colored pictures to show the story on the wall. The group loved coloring in, because it’s totally new for them. So, each week we also gave them a black and white picture of the story and they colored their own. These were then stuck into an exercise book and they used them to retell the story to each other.

We also used the Joseph excerpt from the “Mighty Men of God” audio-visual presentation. They enjoyed the 10-minute overview of the Joseph story. They loved this way of learning from the Bible and have asked that we do the same again but with other series. We are planning to show Exodus next.

» Full story with pictures and check out the GRN Bible Picture pack and other teaching resources available for purchase.

MYANMAR: A Loud Bang in the Prayer Room after Eight Buddhists Accept Christ

Source: God Reports, December 27, 2019

On a Christian medical and dental mission to Myanmar (Burma), a large number of Buddhists showed up for free medical attention. Some also visited a prayer room adjoining the clinic, which led to an unusual incident that seemed [to those present] to signal a clash in the spiritual realm.

Senior Pastor Mark Morrow, from Crosswalk Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, was in the prayer room and witnessed the remarkable occurrence. [He] down and couldn’t believe his eyes. It was a heavy mahogany or teak table, very sturdily built, that had cracked from one end to the other.

“I was the closest one to that table. My shins were two inches away,” he recounts. “The table cracked in front of me. There wasn’t a temperature change, no weight on the table. As soon as the Buddhists said ‘Dear Jesus’ and said that prayer to accept him, the table popped. The Burmese people jumped. They saw something tangible had happened.”

Pastor Morrow believes the physical manifestation resulted from a battle in the spiritual realm for the hearts of the people—that God raised a standard against the enemy. “The spirit of God just broke the back of whatever demonic forces were holding those people back,” he concludes.

» Full story with pictures and short video.

Happy New Year!

Readers,

We’re seeing many articles about the best, worst, most significant, or most overlooked [whatever] of the last year… or the decade. But here are a few I want to make sure you don’t miss.

Speaking of 2020, you might want to take a look at the following:

Finally, as you look ahead, visit the Missions Catalyst events calendar, now updated. See below for who’s planning what for January and February or visit our website to find events throughout the year. And please let me know what we’ve missed.

Blessings,
Marti Wade

VIDEO: The Year in Review

Source: Prayercast

Each year Prayercast provides a short, poignant, and powerful video that looks back over the year’s global events. Here’s the latest.

» To get off to a good start in praying for the world in the new year, take a look at Prayercast prayer plans.

EVENTS: Conferences, Courses, and More in 2020

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

January 6 to February 1, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided regularly by Missionary Training International.

January 6 to April 5, Encountering the World of Islam (online). Embracing Muslims with the love of Christ. Online classes launch a few times a year.

January 9, The Heart of the Father, God’s Vision for the World (online). Free “nugget” training from Beyond; part of a series.

January 9, The People Group Paradigm in 2020 (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

January 9, Short-Term Leaders and Field Security Workshop (Sanford, FL, USA). Prepare to live, work, and travel in high-risk environments. Followed by an Interrogation Management Workshop, January 10. Provided by Crisis Consulting International.

January 12 to February 7, Equipping for Cross-Cultural Life and Ministry (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.

January 13 to May 17, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). Additional classes start January 20, February 3, and almost monthly after that. Live classes also begin this month across the US and elsewhere, and the first of several week-long intensives.

January 16, Prayer Training: Connecting with God (online). Free training provided by Beyond.

January 17-18, Mission ConneXion (Tualatin, OR, USA). Free, annual mission conference for all ages.

January 22-23, Support Raising Bootcamp (Plano, TX, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions. These happen nearly every month, each time in a different city.

January 23, Reading in 360 Degrees (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

January 27 to April 7, School of Global Harvest (Chiang Mai, Thailand). From the Global Mission Mobilization Initiative; annual.

January 31 to February 1, Missions Fest Vancouver (Vancouver, BC, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

January 31 to February 1, Santa Barbara Mission Conference (Santa Barbara, CA, USA). An annual event.

February 2-7, ABIDE re-entry debriefing for global workers (Joplin, MO, USA). Offered regularly by TRAIN International.

February 3-4, Support Raising Bootcamp (Brea, CA, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

February 3-5, Field Security Seminar (Yaounde, Cameroon). Provided by Crisis Consulting International; followed by a Crisis Management Seminar February 5-7.

February 7-9, Missionfest Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

February 9-21, Second Language Acquisition Course (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided regularly by the Center for Intercultural Training.

February 10-12, Field Security Seminar (Dakar, Senegal). Provided by Crisis Consulting International. Followed by a Crisis Management Seminar February 12-15.

February 10-11, A Consultation on Mission Agency Church Engagement (online). Hosted by Missio Nexus and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

February 13 to March 13, Foundations of Media to Movements (online). Training course from Mission Media U.

February 19 to March 18, Story in Ministry (online). Mentored course by Mission Media U on applying elements of story to your outreach.

February 20-21, Standards Introductory Workshop (Clackamas, OR, USA). Training in the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission; this one connected to the Mission ConneXion short-term mission event in the same location.

February 20, Frontier People Groups (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

February 21-22, Short-term ConneXion (Clackamas, OR, USA).

February 21-22, Midwest Conference on Missionary Care (Roseville, MN, USA). An annual event.

February 21-23, Missions Fest Alberta (Edmonton, AB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

February 23-28, Debriefing Retreat (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided regularly by the Center for Intercultural Training.

February 23-29, Business as Mission Course (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Intensive Training from YWAM’s BAM Resource Team.

February 24-27, Thrive Retreat (Dubrovnik, Croatia). For North American women serving cross-culturally.

February 24 to March 4, Parenting Third Culture Kids (online). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.

February 24 to March 21, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided regularly by Missionary Training International.

February 26 to April 5, Seek God for the City (global). Annual prayer campaign coordinated by Seek God for the City.

» View complete calendar. Suggestions and submissions welcome.

Merry Christmas to our readers! If you

Merry Christmas to our readers!

If you are a bit last-minute like me you might find Tearfund’s 25 Ideas for an Ethical Christmas just the ticket to help you catch up! You might also be interested in reading about the Christian roots of the fair-trade movement (Christianity Today; preview only). Did you know Ten Thousand Villages was the first fair-trade organization in the world? Let me suggest a similar organization, ECHO in South Florida. See their Christmas page if you’d like to shop.

Feeling super stressed? It might be a good time to read A Lost Screwtape Letter (Dated in December) from The Gospel Coalition. Or take my advice and spend 30 minutes watching the pilot episode of a new show about the life of Christ, The Chosen.

My news reader is full of stories of protests (Hong Kong, Lebanon, Iraq, and India) and reports of religious persecution. The night of our “dear Savior’s birth” heaven announced “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” I have come to see the angels’ pronouncement not as a declaration but an invitation. As Charles Wesley wrote, “Joyful, all ye nations rise. Join the triumph of the skies…” the invitation is going out and…the nations ARE rising!

Peace to you and yours,
Pat

THAILAND: Myanmar Believers Host Christmas Events

Source: International Mission Board, December 16, 2019

This month, Myanmar believers in South Thailand are hard at work. They are few in number compared to many churches, but their dedication to share the gospel story this season is unwavering. Three small churches, planted to reach factory workers, band together in December to share the Christmas story through music, drama, food, and fellowship. This will be their third year to produce the outreach events.

They can only plan events on Sunday, because that’s when factories are closed. Many of the believers work 12-hour shifts, six days a week, and then work through the night as the Sunday events approach. They will feed and give small gifts to hundreds of people who attend the events, using a portion of their $9/day salaries that they have faithfully set aside for this effort.

Please pray for the next evangelistic event planned for December 22, 2019. In addition to singing Christmas carols, the Myanmar Christians will perform a nativity drama and tell the Christmas story from the Bible. They also prepare and feed everyone who comes to the event and give them a small gift. The gifts and food also serve as a strong incentive for people to come. They recognize that this season, non-believers are often curious about Christmas and will come to an event to find out more.

» See full story with pictures and prayer points. You could also pray for churches reaching out through Christmas events in Japan, and read OMF’s Five Ways to Pray for Christmas Outreaches.

MONGOLIA: A Memorable Christmas Morning

Source: OMF International, December 13, 2019

Last Christmas morning, Esther and I had a young man, Andrew, and his younger sister, Dawn [over to our house] for breakfast.

They grew up in a nomadic herding family, but Dawn was now in her final year of nursing school. After breakfast and our sharing about shepherds and uniqueness of the manger, she asked if she could share something with us.

Looking serious, she thoughtfully reflected,

“I remember when you came to our home and shared Jesus! I was just a little girl! You see the fruit of your prayer now! I am a Christian and my brother is studying to be a pastor! God cares for us, like he did the shepherds!”

A few times Dawn was so overwhelmed by God’s grace in her life that she could not speak and started crying. She said she thinks God may be calling her to work one day with children with disabilities and has been volunteering through the Christian Nurses Association.

Indeed, years ago we shared the gospel with Andrew and Dawn’s parents, not paying much attention to their children in the background. Andrew was often out tending the goats. Andrew listened to us and also read the gospel booklet that we had given to his parents. He prayed to trust in Jesus for his salvation.

In time both Andrew and Dawn went to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, to study, and they are both active in church. He is studying at Union Bible Theological College and hopes to serve in his remote home county. He has already completed his compulsory year of military service. Dawn completed nursing school and the national nursing exam, and currently works at a hospital. Andrew teaches guitar to Kazakh youth. Over our Christmas breakfast we had talked about possible ways they could share Jesus’ love with those around them.

» Read full story and praise God for the growth of the Church in Mongolia, most over the course of a single generation.

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