Back in the old days you posted a cool thing on Facebook thinking it might cheer or inform your friends. You might also scroll along a bit and find things to encourage, amuse, or inform you. Now if you go to Facebook, you’re more likely to be hammered by the reality of people who don’t think like you and seem hell-bent on destroying all you hold dear! Oh, and right now you’ll also find pumpkin-spice recipes. That being true, maybe we should revive an old school idea whose time has come again.
No, I’m not suggesting you go visit someone! (What, so now you want to infect everyone and their dear old Aunt Lou with COVID?)
I’m also not going to say outright that you should call someone on the phone. Some 30% of you would stop reading right then, and say, “Is there no burden you won’t lay on our shoulders? Not even Jesus Himself called anyone on the phone.”
I’m talking classic networking. Not so much this Harvard Business Review definition: “the unpleasant task of trading favors with strangers,” or the smarmy caricature of glad-handing everyone you know in a one-sided effort to advance yourself.
Rather, I’m thinking there are pairs or triplets of you all I’d give about anything to sit down with over a coffee. A couple minutes of small talk, a bit more background, and then amazing stuff could happen.
There are people reading this article right now who know the very person who knows how to solve problem number three on your list.
And you, yeah, I mean you: You know the answer to the very question that’s absolutely vexing someone else who reads Missions Catalyst! We matter to each other.
We can make a difference. We can help and be helped by each other in ways that nurture and advance God’s purposes.
Here are four networking principles, four practical tips, some consolation for introverts, and a bold pitch hearkening back to last month’s topic which may relate to this one.Four Principles of Networking 1. Be brave.
If you can ask the Creator of the universe for whatever you need (Hebrews 4:16), you can ask any missions person! I’ll never forget screwing up my courage and approaching Don Richardson with a question. (Back in my day, there was no bigger missions dude!) Turns out he was a reasonable person and quite willing to engage my sophomoric questions.
If you knew they’d be nice to you, who would you like to ask for advice?2. Start early.
In an article about networking in the age of COVID-19, Gary Burnison, the CEO of Korn Ferry (A consulting firm, not a local bluegrass band. I know, that’s what I thought, too!), stresses, “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you want to be successful at networking, you must keep in mind that it really isn’t about you. It’s about building relationships—and relationships aren’t one-way streets.” The sooner we begin to build relationships, the readier they will be should we find ourselves needing help or input.
Reach out now before you need a rescue.3. Kingdom first.
I love the collaboration and interdependence expressed when workers from various agencies who reside in the same foreign city refer to themselves as “God’s team.” In classic networking, your efforts might result in you getting the job and the other guy walking. Ideally, our networking will be competition-free. For example, If you beat me to one of the remaining 500 or so unreached, unengaged Muslim people groups, I’m going to give you a high five, not the stink eye!
Full disclosure: I have met people who were so sharp that my efforts to recruit them may have included implying that your mission agency was a little soft on inerrancy or some other such nonsense! I apologize.4. Be accessible.
Bob Goff set a high bar for this by including his cell number in the back of his books! As a fledgling writer, my oldest daughter called him and left a message sharing how he’d helped her. A few days later he called back and encouraged the bejeebers out of her!
Everyone’s situation is different. But let me ask, are your hands open with the good things God has given you? Would increasing your accessibility advance the kingdom? At the risk of “I’m accessible, but apparently no one cares!” here’s my mobile number: 719.251.1403. I’d be happy to add whatever little bit I can to the accomplishment of your godly plans and the realizations of your kingdom dreams.
Uh, but just text, don’t call. You know, phones!Four Practical Tips for Networking 1. Send handwritten thank you notes.
I’m preaching to myself here! Well, actually Dr. Ben Hardy is. In this video he shares the power of a simple, handwritten thank you note. If we raise support, obviously we should thank donors. Who else would be blessed by your gratitude?2. Write encouragement texts.
See something? Say something. Encourage the encouragers. Point out a high point. “Kudos.” “You were brilliant.” “Atta boy/girl!”3. Ask easily answerable questions.
I’ve preached it: The best questions can’t be answered with “yes,” “no,” or a list. This is true. But I know I’m much more apt to respond to an inquiry if I can do so in 30 seconds. Questions requiring minute(s)-long answers tend to languish for days.4. Ask again.
I tend to assume other people are more disciplined and organized than I am since that would be setting the bar super low! So, when they don’t respond, I assume they don’t want to. In reality, most people are scrambling. People for whom you wouldn’t even think it could be true have dogs who throw up on the carpet and as a result they forget to respond to your message! Wait a bit and humbly try again.“Hold on a second, I’m an introvert!”
Some of this “help and get help” networking might be a factor of personality. I’m not inclined to launch into anything significant on my own. As a mobilizer, I might be the one to start waving the flag for a particular vision, but I’m looking for close comrades right out of the gate. If you’re wired up in a more independent way, maybe you’ll happily spend more time on the giving end of networking, rather than the receiving end.
And if it feels like part of you will die if you ask someone to consider helping you, I wouldn’t blame you for saying “Bye, Felicia” to this whole idea. Please don’t, though. You have so much to offer the movement. Find the low key, safe ways to ask and share. We want you and need you.Fitness Pitch
Last month I asked you to think of your body and consider making some changes to keep it alive longer. The recent passing of two dear and faithful missions all-stars (Lee Purgason and Doug Schaible) remind us it’s clear our days are not entirely in our hands. Even so, I want to steward this temple well. I suspect you do too. In fact, this could be problem number one or two on your list.
If so, please check out what my friends Anthony and Denea Widener are doing with Crash Fitness. They want to help missionaries and missions people by “empowering them in Christ to move with passion and purpose through fitness and healthy living.”
I’d like you and your whole network to join me in their free Seven-Day Challenge. What do you have to lose? (Me? About a stone. Maybe two!)
- WORLD: Pray for the Persecuted
- MYANMAR/BURMA: Karen Suffer in Military Activity Under Lockdown
- UGANDA: Christian Boy Feared Killed in Ritual Sacrifice
- IRAN: Christians Ruled Unfit to Parent Adopted Child
- LEBANON: Pastor Speaks Out About Divine Intervention
- EDITOR’S NOTE: Correction to September 30 edition
Like what you read? Please share it. Got this from a friend? Subscribe.
“The wonderful thing about praying is that you leave a world of not being able to do something and enter God’s realm where everything is possible. He specializes in the impossible. Nothing is too great for His almighty power. Nothing is too small for His love.” — Corrie Ten Boom
This edition is not as balanced as we normally like them to be. The International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians (note the subtle name change) is November 1, less than four weeks away. So I thought for this edition and maybe the next I would give you what Corrie ten Boom calls an abundance of opportunity to “leave a world of not being able to do something and enter God’s realm where everything is possible.”
A variety of prayer resources are available from the VOM’s IDOP website, including free downloads (in exchange for your contact info).
Each year I also turn to a lesser known Rich Mullins song called I Will Sing (via Global Christian Worship). It never fails to stir my heart for my persecuted family around the world. If you share it with your music ministry, they might have time to learn if before November 1.
Singing for those in chains,
Source: Voice of the Martyrs, September 22, 2020
Join Christians around the world in a global prayer meeting for our persecuted brothers and sisters who boldly witness for Christ at any cost.
VOM’s 2020 IDOP short film, Janette: Central African Republic, is a dramatic portrayal of how persecuted Christians in the Central African Republic have been displaced from their homes and villages by civil war and Islamist violence.
But these courageous believers have also forgiven their persecutors and held fast to their faith in Christ. You and your church will be inspired to pray for and support Christians like Janette who have lost everything because of their Christian faith.
» Watch film below.
» Note, we see the IDOP referred to in several different ways this year: as an international day of prayer for the persecuted church, for persecuted Christians, or simply “for the persecuted.” Not sure if there’s been a name change or not. Most observe it November 1 or November 8 but VOM adds “and through the month of November.”
Source: Christian Freedom International, September 16, 2020
The Burmese Military, called the Tatmadaw, has taken advantage of the pandemic lockdown to increase its military activities within the mostly Christian Karen communities.
Between January and June, Karen communities were warned that if they gather, they may face arrest and could increase the spread of COVID-19. Yet during that time the Tatmadaw performed large military operations to strengthen their army camps, conduct attacks, and set up more military posts. It also sent more soldiers and rations to camps and resumed constructing military road despite the opposition by the Karen National Union (KNU) and the local Karen populace.
The Tatmadaw presented the road construction activities as a development project that will benefit the local communities. However, the Karen National Union sees this project as part of a Tatmadaw strategy to extend its control over Karen areas, and therefore opposes it.
Locals complain that several parts of this construction go straight through farms, communities, and local hunting areas completely disrupting the Karen way of life.
According to a Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) researcher, at least 207 skirmishes broke out between the Tatmadaw and the KNLA over the last six months as a result of Tatmadaw soldiers trespassing into Karen controlled territory in order to secure land for military road construction activities.
The Karen villagers are at high risk of collateral damage. There have been several civilian casualties, farmland burned, and village buildings destroyed including monuments and churches. One community reported that the fighting resulted in the displacement of 2,137 villagers, including 417 children under five years of age.
» In other news from East Asia, a North Korean man who recently came to faith was arrested. A ministry leader working there believes he is in grave danger and asks us to pray for his release (Open Doors).
Source: Morning Star News, September 28, 2020
A Christian boy has been killed after a woman said to be a radical Muslim opposed to his father’s conversion from Islam sold him and his sister to a witchdoctor for ritual sacrifice, sources said.
Sulaiman Pulisi, a former imam (mosque leader) who became a Christian three years ago, said that in July 2018 his daughter, then 13, and his then-11-year-old son, Abdulmajidu, disappeared from their home in eastern Uganda’s Kachiribong village, Kasasira Town in Kibuku District. Police rescued his daughter September 16.
“We are mourning for our son who is alleged to have been sacrificed,” the crestfallen Pulisi told Morning Star News. “We are mourning with my daughter, who has been used as a sex object by the Muslim shaman.”
The identity of the suspected kidnappers remained unclear. Pulisi’s daughter was rescued from the witchdoctor’s home in a village in western Uganda after a Christian shopkeeper there asked her where she had come from.
“A radical Muslim woman called Sania Muhammad [of Kasasira, in eastern Uganda] who had connections with Muslim men used to look for children of converts from Islam and sell them to this particular Muslim witchdoctor,” the shopkeeper, Joseph Sodo, told Morning Star News based on what police have told him about their investigations.
» Also from Africa, see an analysis of how Christians are responding to terrorist violence in Burkina Faso (Christianity Today).
Source: Article18, September 24, 2020
Lydia was just three months old when she was adopted by Iranian Christian converts Sam Khosravi and wife Maryam Falahi.
Now, just one month before her second birthday, a court ruled she must be taken away from them, as Sam and Maryam—who are currently appealing against convictions related to their membership of a house-church—are “not fit” to be her parents.
The ruling, handed down by a court in their home city of Bushehr, southwestern Iran, on July 19 but not reported until now, was upheld by a court of appeal on September 22, despite the judge in his initial verdict acknowledging that Lydia felt an “intense emotional attachment” to her adoptive parents and saying there was “zero chance” another adoptive family would be found for her, given Lydia’s health problems.
But that didn’t prevent [judge Muhammad Hassan Dashti] from ruling against Lydia’s adoptive parents—and for one reason: they are Christian converts, and Lydia, though her parentage is not known, is considered a Muslim, and as such by law ought only to be cared for by Muslim parents.
Sam and Maryam maintain that they were always clear about their conversion to Christianity; however, the judge ruled that Lydia—a nominally “Muslim” child—should never have been placed in their care.
» Full story includes photos and more context. A related article from Middle East Concern adds, “Sam, Maryam, and their friends request prayer that in this deeply distressing time for the family, the Lord will grant them his deep peace and work a miracle to allow Sam and Maryam to keep and care for Lydia as their adoptive child.”
Source: SAT-7, September 21, 2020
When the port explosion ripped through Beirut on August 4, the nearby building of the Church of God should have been full. Instead, it was empty, because hours before, Pastor Saeed Deeb felt convicted to send everybody home. On SAT-7 ARABIC, he shares his story of the divine prompt that protected his congregation.
» See full story with video.
» Pioneers (the ministry that makes Missions Catalyst possible) is coordinating a weekend of prayer for the Middle East October 9-11. Lebanon is the focus for Friday. Download a prayer profile or visit the ASK 2020 webpage.
Source: Jeannie Marie
One of the best ways to experience a place or people group is to take a short trip and go there. But that’s not so easy to do during a pandemic. You can go along with Jeannie Marie and a few friends on a (pre-pandemic) survey trip to see for yourself what she describes as one of the most unseen—and beautiful—places on earth: the southern districts of Bangladesh.
» Gather your family or small group and watch the series of 10 videos.
» While we’re in South Asia, jot yourself a note that 15 Days of Prayer for the Hindu World is coming up, November 8-22. You can order prayer booklets from William Carey Publishing (and other places).
The Red Book, by Gillian Newham. Bespoke Christian Publishing, 2020. 342 pages.
A nineteenth-century missionary spends 20 summers among Mongolian herdsmen, seeing no fruit but leaving behind a precious Mongolian Bible with a holy man who was his friend.
Nearly a century later, we meet a family in the same area, still keeping their herds and living much as their ancestors did, but in a changing Mongolia. The novel focuses on several members of the family questioning if there is something more than their traditions and way of life and seeking truth and purpose.
Though the world has lots of Christian fiction, novels about missions are few and far between and sometimes don’t ring true. I was impressed with this one. It provides a loving look at Mongolian thinking, culture, experience, and spirituality and will be welcome to those who know or want to know more about Mongolia, though the unfamiliar Mongolian names and phrases might lose a reader not willing to persevere.
The author and her husband live and serve in Mongolia.
In this short video, Steve Schirmer of Silk Road Catalyst explains and responds to data about the status of global evangelization compiled by Joshua Project—including the estimate, published in 2007, that 86% of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists do not personally know someone who follows Christ. Is that still true?
Source: Center for Missionary Mobilization and Retention, Trinity Bible College and Graduate School
Could you or someone you know use additional training as a mission advocate and missionary mobilizer? This school in North Dakota now offers a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies with an optional track in missions mobilization.
To help with missionary retention, Trinity Bible College and Graduate School is offering free continuing education for missionaries. Any current missionary can take (audit) one of Trinity’s graduate school classes free of charge. These classes take place at various times all over the world.
This fall, they’re also offering one of their courses in an intensive format free of charge to anyone who would like to try it out. Join via Zoom.
Course: Trends and Issues in Mobilization
Dates: November 17-19, 2020
Description: Students will critically engage and analyze issues that both contribute to the decline of missionaries sent from the US and influence one’s decision to serve as a long-term missionary. Special consideration will be given to the factors that often influence the missionary call, as well as current barriers that prohibit an aspiring missionary from getting to the field. Other topics presented in this course such as short-term mission trips and missionary influence may adjust as mobilization trends and issues develop.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
October 1, MultiplyUs. First in what is meant to be a series of online events featuring early examples of disciple-making movements in the USA. Sponsored by 24:14 in partnership with MoreDisciples.com.
October 5 to February 14, 2020, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Next class starts November 2.
October 6, Accountability with a Small Staff and a Small Budget. Webinar from Missio Nexus, with Capin Crouse. This is part of a finance series which also includes a webinar about PPP loan forgiveness on October 27.
October 7, The Future of Missions. Webinar from Missio Nexus in partnership with Sixteen:Fifteen; guest presentation from Barna.
October 8, How Digital Media Is Accelerating Disciple Making Among the Unreached. Webinar from Missio Nexus.
October 8, Discerning Your Calling. Webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.
October 9-10, Evangelical Missiological Society National Conference. Includes tracks on arts, history, orality, short-term mission, and more. Cost goes up after September 30.
October 9-11, Ask2020. Weekend of prayer for the Middle East coordinated by Arab World Ministries. Download materials to help you and your church pray for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon.
October 13, Circumventing the Mission Agency; Navigating the System. Webinar from the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission. A November 10 webinar will focus on preparing youth for missions.
October 20-21, Support Raising Bootcamp, provided by Support Raising Solutions. A similar virtual event is planned for November 11-13.
October 20-28, Standards Introductory Workshop. Ten-hour interactive seminar on making mission trips better from Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission. A similar event will be held November 16-18.
October 22 to November 19, Strategic Storytelling for Movements (new online course). For field workers and content creators to find and create media stories for ministry, from Missions Media U.
October 24, Northwest Regional Refugee Roundtable. Provided by the Refugee Highway Partnership.
October 29, Transformation of the Church. Webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.
» View complete calendar. Submissions and corrections welcome. We will continue to make updates about canceled and postponed events.
Most evangelical Christian women in Eritrea have to pray together in secret. Photo: World Watch Monitor. Related story below.
- INDIA: Challenges and Advances in North India
- IRAN: Church Believed to Have Nearly 1 Million Members
- BANGLADESH: A Different View of Rohingya Refugees
- ERITREA: Evangelical Christians Freed on Bail
- ZAMBIA: Prepared in Season and out of Season
Source: Beyond, September 23, 2020
About one year ago, some house church leaders in North India had their homes burned to the ground. They are facing difficulties again.
A few months after their homes were burned, all the families moved back and rebuilt their huts. Last week, a local Hindu extremist group joined forces with the police, damaged their rebuilt homes, and arrested 14 people. Two are still in jail. The police are demanding extortion to release them.
However, in the midst of very real persecution, the church continues to advance. Sanjay, a leader in the movement, recently read through old diary entries from the first movement meetings in 2012. He had written, “God, give us North India.”
We praise the Lord for the big vision of these committed disciples. Today, the work has spread to nine states and over 200 caste groups. Thousands and thousands of families have become strong disciples of Jesus, working to make more disciples of Jesus.
Pray for our brothers and sisters to remain attached to the Vine, and for their joy to increase even in the midst of their persecution. Pray our Father will bring forth much fruit that the devil cannot snatch away.
» See also Christians in Northern India Forced to Stop Worship, Pastor Says (Morning Star News) and this photo essay: Ganges River Flows with History and Prophecy for India (Associated Press).
» Colleagues in mobilization at Pioneers are hosting a virtual prayer time for the Hindu world on September 23. You’re welcome to join in.
Source: Christian Headlines, September 4, 2020
If you open up your doors to a house church in Iran, then your home could be frequently raided and monitored. And if you do happen to go to prison, the prison situation there is appalling.
Despite these issues, Christianity Today reports the Iranian church has grown to around 1 million members. This is according to a survey by GAMAAN, a research group based out of the Netherlands. The survey asked 50,000 Iranians what their belief was. 90% of those surveyed live in Iran.
According to the survey, 1.5% of Iranians are Christians. Extrapolating that out yields a minimum of 750,000 Iranian Christians, but there are also 117,500 Armenian and Assyrian Christians living in the country, putting the actual baseline closer to 867,500 Christians at minimum.
However, Christianity Today reports the survey itself states there are “without doubt in the order of magnitude of several hundreds of thousands and growing beyond a million” Christians in the country.
Source: Mission Network News, September 14, 2020
In a newly released video, two ex-soldiers from Myanmar confess to the mass killing and rape of Rohingya Muslims. It’s the first time anyone from Myanmar’s military acknowledged a campaign of violence targeting this people group, CNN reports.
Since 2012, armed attacks have forced between 800,000 and one million Rohingya refugees into neighboring Bangladesh. Vincent Michael of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) says they’re helping local pastors reach these refugees for Christ.
“A big part of working with Bangladeshis is to encourage them to be visionary, to go into places where we can’t go, and to take those opportunities instead of being scared of them,” Michael says.
Poverty presents a challenge to this mission. More people live below the global poverty line in Bangladesh than anywhere else in South Asia. Instead of seeing Rohingya refugees as people who need Christ and compassion, some Bangladeshis view them as competition for scarce resources. FMI offered Bangladeshi pastors a different outlook during a recent training session.
“We made a slideshow of pictures that painted the Rohingya in a more ‘accurate’ light. We showed pictures of Rohingya children crying because they were starving [and] of the bread lines. We showed some of the UN efforts to help in the area,” Michael describes.
“I started seeing a change [during] the conference. When we did that vision casting session, and we showed some of the needs that are in those camps, a large majority of the pastors would say, ‘we’d like to see if we could help; or, at the very least, bring these prayer concerns back to our people.’”
Source: World Watch Monitor, September 10, 2020
The Eritrean government has released on bail more than 20 prisoners who’d been in detention for years because of their faith, the BBC reports.
A regional spokesperson for charity Open Doors International said that, for some time, it had heard discussion that prisoners might be freed on bail due to the coronavirus pandemic (as has happened in several other countries) but could not independently confirm the reports: “If true, this could be quite significant.”
In May 2019, a monitoring group for the UN said “thousands” of Christians are facing detention as “religious freedom continue[s] to be denied in Eritrea” and questioned why the UN was not monitoring the situation more closely.
In June 2019, Reuters reported that more than 500,000 refugees worldwide have left Eritrea, up from 486,200 a year earlier.
» Read full story includes details on additional incidents related to religious liberty and persecution.
» See also 27 Christians Released from Prison in Eritrea (Christian Today), which includes an estimate that the number of incarcerated Christians is a little over 300, including 39 children. The BBC report cites a US State Department estimate that there are 1,200 to 3,000 prisoners of faith in Eritrea. Not sure why the numbers vary so widely.
» The recent peace deal in neighboring Sudan included an agreement by the transitional government to remove Islam as the state religion and abolish the death penalty for leaving Islam (Open Doors).
Source: Operation Mobilization, September 8, 2020
“When the virus spread to Africa, I had the choice to leave for Canada, but I am thankful that I chose to remain in Zambia,” explained Larissa [a Canadian serving with OM]. “God has used my team in a really special way to continue reaching out to ladies in Zambia and other locations across Africa.”
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, almost everything in Zambia, where Larissa works to empower and equip women, came to standstill as lockdowns restricted movement and wearing a face mask became mandatory while interacting with people. Instead of Larissa and her team being restricted, however, they found an opportunity to express love to others by sewing affordable face masks. “Our vision didn’t change—we still wanted to empower women—but our focus for this time had to change,” commented Larissa.
Sewing as many as 7,000 masks within a few weeks, the effort provided not only a reprieve for people who faced the stark choice of whether to spend their meager earnings on expensive masks or face a jail term for not wearing one but also an income stream for the women training as tailors who are often the breadwinners of their family.
“As often in developing countries, the life of a woman is not easy,” observed Larissa. “Women are often uneducated and illiterate and therefore struggle to generate any form of income.
“Our vision is to see women empowered, freed from physical and spiritual oppression and become vibrant followers of Jesus.”
» Want more stories about showing effective compassion in challenging times? Read about the ministries in the US (mostly) that won the annual Hope Awards from World Magazine.