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The World Is My Neighbor: Learning from the Good Samaritan

The World Is My Neighbor Learning from the Good Samaritan

By Shane Bennett

John Wesley, a personal hero of mine, famously said, “I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear the glad tidings of salvation.”

I enjoy the contrast of Wesley’s generous sentiment to the apparent caution of the expert in the law whose question to Jesus prompted Luke’s account of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Having established that the greatest commandment was loving God, followed by loving neighbors, he pressed to see who all might be included in the “neighbor” designation.

The lawyer asked how to be a good Jew. Jesus told him to be like a good Samaritan! Show mercy to those who need mercy.

I love this story more every time I circle back around to it. It has power over millennia and lessons for us in these crazy days. If you have a moment, read it again, then consider these three observations and one question.

1. Jesus nails the first response.

The lawyer opens the chess match with, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus could have pulled out a copy of the Four Spiritual Laws, shown him the Romans Road, or maybe drawn the Bridge Diagram in the dirt for the guy. Instead, he responds with, “What is written in the Law? “How do you read it?”

This is such a good challenge for us in these days of information whirlwind, fake news, and deeply held but biblically suspect ideology.

When we feel strongly on an issue, let’s ask ourselves, “What is written? How do you read it?” and then ask the same question, kindly and carefully, of fellow believers, concerning the issues of the day.

Let me be clear: I’m not accusing you of “biblically suspect ideology.” I’m confessing that some of my thinking might be unbiblical—and inviting us all to consider that it could be true of any of us.

2. Jesus sticks the landing.

Jesus ends the brief episode with a question: “Who of the three was neighborly?” Then when the lawyer bravely stated the obvious and correct answer, Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” So simple, so brilliant. And so important for us today.

Knowing what Jesus says is valuable. Doing what he says, however, is the main payoff. Jesus wraps up the Sermon on the Mount with the “house on the rock, house on the sand” illustration. If you hear and do what God says, you survive calamity. I so long to be one who both hears and does what is right. I’ve racked up way too many points in the know column relative to the points in the do column.

After reading the Sermon on the Mount, I’m particularly challenged to go after the warm, godly characteristics of “peacemaker,” “salt,” and “light.” Want to join me? Perhaps show the way?

3. A bad guy is the good guy.

Ah, to be a storyteller like Jesus. He knew his culture so well. He had the right measure of boldness, cheekiness, and sport. If he told the Good Samaritan story in your church come Sunday morning, who would be the good guy? A Mormon? A Muslim? An American? A transgendered, illegal alien? The deacon’s daughter who went to college, left the church, and got all liberal?

Jesus has a way of cutting to the chase, doesn’t he? Of raising a mirror to show us our moral prejudice and our grace parameters.

At the same time, by choosing a bad guy Samaritan to be the good guy in his story, Jesus is telling us this: I’m down for using you to do my kingdom work. If a Samaritan is fair game to show a Jewish lawyer how to act, then you’re not too dumb, too old or young, too short on the raw material, too privileged or underprivileged, too red, blue, rural, urban, or weird. Your checkered past doesn’t stop him. God delights to use you.

Last night I met a farmer from the middle of nowhere, Idaho, who retired, took his wife’s hand, and moved to the Middle East for several years to love Muslims. It may be a side note in the story, but don’t miss it: Kingdom work is open to pretty much anyone willing to take a detour, drop some coin, and get their donkey dirty.

4. How do you love like a Samaritan?

Jesus told his tester, “Go and do likewise.” Be a good neighbor. Act the way the Samaritan did. God knows there are plenty of people right now who feel like the universe has conspired to beat the tar out of them, take their stuff, and leave them for dead.

Maybe you share that sentiment. You feel like you’re on a playground merry-go-round, barely keeping your grip as it spins. Then a big kid comes along and gives it another push. Maybe you feel like the US election and subsequent events have yanked the rug out from under you. Perhaps the pandemic, the school closures, or the economic stress has you hanging by a thread.

I’d be honored to come alongside you in prayer. I suspect I can relate to some though certainly not all of what you’re facing. Tell me how I can pray. If the Holy Spirit’s nudging you put the words of Jesus into action, to act like a good Samaritan, here are three things to consider.

Look.

Odds are good you won’t see a robbed, beaten, left-for-dead dude on your way home from work today. But you may pass someone in the hallway at church who’s on the ropes. The person in front of you at the grocery may be only barely holding their stuff together. And if we dare to consider it, there are whole nations of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists reeling under the assault of the virus with no one even whispering, “Jesus is for you.”

There are times when I don’t want to look around. Like a priest or Levite, I want to lower my head, avert my gaze, slide on over to the “enjoy my life” side of the road and let the rest of the world be. But Jesus calls me, us, to look.

Will you consider with me, to whom is he asking you to be a neighbor this week?

Listen.

Jesus could have directly responded to the lawyer’s question. He certainly knew the answer! Maybe his response was more than Semitic pedagogy. Maybe Jesus wanted to let the guy talk. I know that today we show care for people when doing that. David Augsberger says, “Being heard is so close to being loved that, for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”

It feels empowering to yell. Cathartic to confront. It may feel imperative to get your take on the table. But it’s safer to listen. And there are people around you who need to be heard today. Simply holding your tongue and taking the time to nod your head and say, “Go on…” could mean so much.

To whom might the Holy Spirit be prompting you to listen today, this week?

Love.

Finally, we act as a good neighbor by loving people who need it, those whom God puts alongside our path.

Let’s be honest: Loving costs. It costs time and money and involves taking a risk. If we choose to love, we might have to trade in being right, at least temporarily.

In a deep way, I want the Church to be known these days for its love. If that’s going to happen, it probably needs to happen first in me and you. Jesus’s life and death show us the way. May God empower, encourage, and release us to “Go and do likewise.”

Who might God be asking you to love in a fresh way this week?

Grace to you as you do so.

Did you miss these stories? | World News Briefs

In a year dominated by COVID-19, some other big stories got less coverage. On November 18, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared itself free from Ebola for the first time in nearly three years. See the story below (Tearfund).

  1. WORLD: Seven Stories You May Have Missed in 2020
  2. INDIA: States Ratify Anti-Conversion Laws
  3. CAMBODIA: Solina’s Story
  4. PAKISTAN: Mob Attacks Church on Christmas
  5. USA: Saudi Converted Americans to Islam, Until…

WORLD: Seven Stories You May Have Missed in 2020

Source: Tearfund, December 2020

At Tearfund, we have seen our partners around the world step up and respond to crisis after crisis during 2020. But in a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, Tearfund’s News Editor, Andrew Horton, rounds up some important events that didn’t get much time in the news.

From locusts, floods, and hurricanes to positive stories of change, here are seven stories you may have missed in 2020.

» Read the article with links and pictures.

» OMF’s Andy Smith calls 2020 the Year of the Eraser. If you canceled much this last year, you can relate. See also Seven Heartfelt Prayers by Pastors for Their Churches in 2021 (Thom Rainer, Church Answers).

INDIA: States Ratify Anti-Conversion Laws

Source: Jubilee Campaign, December 31, 2020

On December 29, it was revealed that lawyers and government officials of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have approved The Freedom of Religion Bill of 2020 which has raised many concerns among the nation’s religious minorities. This new legislation, according to Reuters, “would make pressuring a woman to convert to their husband’s religion a crime punishable with imprisonment.”

Just a month prior, the Indian state Uttar Pradesh passed a similar law, the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance. In both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, officials claim that the legislation is aimed at “curb[ing] religious conversions using misrepresentation, allurement, force, threat, undue influence, coercion, marriage or any other ‘fraudulent means.’”

However, though there is no specific religion mentioned in the bill, critics believe it may indiscriminately target the nation’s Muslim and Christian communities. For some time, radical Hindu nationalists have accused—without credible evidence—India’s Muslims of engaging in a “Love Jihad” campaign by which they coerce Hindu women to convert to Islam with the promise of marriage. Similarly, politicians in Madhya Pradesh have repeatedly criticized and condemned Christian missionaries, who they claim make promises of education and financial support to Hindu women in exchange for their conversion to Christianity.

» Read the full story.

» Morning Star News reports the arrest of a Korean Christian and several other suspects under the new anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh.

CAMBODIA: Solina’s Story

Source: OMF International, January 4, 2021

I had a quiet and peaceful upbringing in Cambodia, but the Khmer Rouge changed everything. When I was 21 years old, my city came under attack. My family was rushed out of Phnom Penh into the countryside. The journey was difficult. My mother died on the side of the road, but we had to continue on.

Eventually, separated from my father and sisters, I was forced into a labor camp. I was beaten, tortured, and starved. On multiple occasions, I thought I would be executed.

In the midst of my suffering, God touched my heart. I was harvesting rice and glanced up at a mango tree. I began wondering who created the first crop. Though I claimed to be Buddhist like my mother, I began believing there must be a Creator God.

When the war ended, I escaped and was reunited with my family. We stayed in refugee camps in Thailand, where I met some missionaries. One woman shared the Bible with me and told me about Jesus. When I heard how Jesus had forgiven those who had mistreated him, I was deeply moved. I accepted him as my Savior right away.

In 1992, while living in Canada, I got connected to a ministry that shared the gospel with Cambodians through radio. I harbored bitterness toward Cambodia and never wanted to return. But God made it clear he had plans for me there.

I’ve been living in Cambodia and serving in gospel radio ministry for 20 years. The Lord has given me strength not only to forgive my persecutors but also to love my country. After all, God has done for me, I consider it a privilege to spend my life serving him here.

» Article includes two more testimonies from Cambodia.

» See IMB Commemorates the Service of Single Female Missionaries (Southern Baptist Convention).

PAKISTAN: Mob Attacks Church on Christmas

Source: Mission Network News, December 30, 2020

On Christmas morning in Lahore, Pakistan, a group of 50-60 Muslim men attacked a Christian church during their Christmas service. They aimed to kidnap and assault the women in attendance.

The security guards and other men at the church fought back with bare hands against the staff-wielding intruders, giving the women time to escape. Many Christian men suffered blunt trauma injuries and fractures in the fight.

Things got worse when the police arrived. Authorities helped the defeated Muslims escape, and blamed Christians for fighting back. Nehemiah from FMI (Forgotten Missionaries International) says, “They scolded and threatened the Christian community, the Christian church, saying it’s illegal to have their own security. [This] is truly an unjustified and illegal action by the police, because it was announced by the government of Pakistan two years ago, that every church must have its own security. They must have their own CCTV cameras, barbed wires, and medical equipment.”

To make things worse, the police have now arrested security guards who beat back the mob, saying they broke the law.

» Read the full story and one with a different ending, Pakistan Officials Stop Christmas Day Terrorist Attack.

» See also Boko Haram Kills Villagers in Christmas Eve Attack (BBC).

USA: Saudi Converted Americans to Islam, Until…

Source: God Reports, November 28, 2020

Nasser, who was born and raised on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, longed to die for Allah by waging jihad and thus improving his chances of making it into Paradise.

“God had other plans for me,” he says on a Your Living Manna video.

In the summer of 1990, Nasser plotted to run away and join [the] jihad, but Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. At the time, he was actually in the United States with his mother visiting relatives and the ensuing world chaos prevented him from leaving.

“What was I going to do? I was surrounded by infidels. You either make [war] against them or you try to bring them into Islam another way,” he says. “I thought Allah brought me here to evangelize them.”

As he learned about American culture, he eventually perceived that born-again Christians were different than the rest of Americans (who he wrongly assumed to all be Christians), and he began to target them because he figured it would be easy for them to switch since they already lived clean lives.

One of those loving and clean-living Christians was a woman with whom Nasser fell in love.

“That was my undoing,” he admits.

» Read the full story.

Happy New Year!

Readers,

Happy New Year! ’Tis the season for articles about the best, worst, or most significant happenings of the last year. We may include some in next week’s news briefs. But here are a few to start with.

  • Best Mission Books of 2020, from our friend Ellen at Catalyst Services. Some of these we reviewed in Missions Catalyst.
  • Prayercast’s 2020 year in review video; see below. God still reigns, worth remembering as we reflect on the ups and downs of 2020.
  • Check out YearCompass, a free booklet of questions and exercises to help you reflect on your year and plan for your next one.
  • As you consider 2021, take a look at our calendar for mission conferences, courses, and other events. Many are now free online, which has not previously been the case. Seize the day!
Blessings,
Marti

EVENTS: Conferences, Courses, and More

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

January 4-30, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Missionary Training International. There’s a wait list for this one, but MTI plans to offer COMPASS six more times in 2021.

January 11 to April 11, Encountering the World of Islam (online). New online classes start several times a year; also available in other formats/languages.

January 11 to May 16, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). New online classes begin regularly. Note that a special virtual class will take place from January 17 to May 23 and taught via Zoom rather than using recordings as the usual online course does. Perspectives Canada has a similar offering. There are also classes in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

January 10 to February 5, Equipping for Cross-Cultural Life and Ministry (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training. CIT plans to offer the course four more times in 2021. They also offer a second-language acquisition course; many participants come for both.

January 12, Planting the Seed: Gospel-Driven Discipleship (online). Part of a free series for church mission leaders from Pioneers USA.

January 14-15, The Mobilized Church: Keys to Unlock Missions Potential (online). Two-day interactive workshop provided by Sixteen:Fifteen and the National African-American Missions Council. For a taste of this, register for the executive preview January 6.

January 14, Publishing in a New Era (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus, featuring Denise Wynn of William Carey Publishing. This may help you figure out what to do with that manuscript you worked on during lockdown.

January 15-16, Mission ConneXion (online). Formerly a regional conference based in Portland, OR, this has been turned into a virtual, worldwide event. Related events include a Short-Term Mission ConneXion which will be online this year as well, February 19-20.

January 26-28, Support Raising Bootcamp (online). Similar events held throughout the year in various locations by Support Raising Solutions, but provided virtually as needed. The next virtual event is February 17-19. You might also look at Tailored Fundraising for personal coaching in this area.

January 28, Through the Wall (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus, featuring psychologist Bill Gaultiere. Looks like it’s focused on soul care.

January 29-30, Missions Fest Santa Barbara (online). Usually offered in Santa Barbara, CA but moved online this year.

January 29-31, Mission Central Conference: Serve (online). Formerly Missions Fest Vancouver, the largest mission event in Canada has been recast into three parts. Part 2, Grow, will be February 19-20, and Part 3: Create (focused on the arts) will be February 26-27. Note that several other Canadian Mission(s) Fests have been called off for 2021.

» View complete calendar. Right now it is not very complete; still too much uncertainty for many of the sponsoring organizations. Any corrections and submissions are welcome.

CHINA: A Mother’s Love and a House Church Movement

Source: Asia Harvest, December 2020

Sister Hu shares the amazing story of how their house church movement started in northeast China:

Some years ago, my son fell seriously ill with kidney disease. I visited numerous temples where I earnestly worshiped all the idols, but he got worse. Then someone at the hospital told me that if I believed in Jesus my son could be healed.

I had no idea how to pray to this Jesus, or even what prayer was. How many times must I pray? What words should I recite and what postures should I take? It occurred to me that I should take my son to Beijing and shout aloud to Jesus on the streets, in the hope that this mysterious person would hear me and find us. However, I lacked the money to travel to Beijing or to make offerings to Jesus once I found him.

My fellow workers at the factory all laughed at me when I pleaded for their help to sell my house so I could take my son to Beijing. I cried so hard that I had a stroke and was unable to talk. Feeling ashamed, my co-workers loaded me onto a cart and pushed it to a medical clinic. Two doctors treated me, and strangely one of them said, ‘God must have a plan for your life.’

Guilt-ridden because of the way they had treated me, my co-workers had a change of heart and decided to help raise money for our trip. I had no idea where to go once we reached Beijing, but the hospital administrator also had to go to Beijing for a meeting, so he accompanied us on the long train journey.

I felt overwhelmed by the crowds of people and the hustle and bustle of the big city, but the administrator took us to a hospital, where there happened to be a doctor who specialized in kidney disease. He took one look at my son and said he must be admitted immediately. We stayed in Beijing, with my son receiving treatment as I recovered from my stroke.

One day I visited a big cathedral in the city. It was the first time I had ever set foot inside a church building, but somehow, I felt at home. I began attending services there, and some sisters encouraged me to follow Jesus and dedicate my son to him. I told God that if he healed my son, I would always serve him and would share the gospel with as many people as I could.

We traveled back home on the train, and I told my boss I had enough money either to buy food or to pay the medical bills, but not both. I was perplexed about what to do, but then I remembered my vow to God, so I quit my job and began sharing the gospel with everyone I met. Soon, a small group of believers emerged, and we began a class to train evangelists and pastors. The fellowship grew quickly and became so large that it caused traffic jams in our town whenever we held a service! We rented a larger building to meet in.

Over time, the Holy Spirit revealed that we should focus on two things: evangelizing the lost and training leaders. We formed teams with five people in each, and we targeted 18 towns with the gospel. As we approached each town we prayed, and then we would look for the poorest household to share the Good News of Jesus with.

Each team was supported by an intercession and fasting chain, which operated around the clock, with believers rotating in two-hour shifts. We fasted for seven days before a campaign, and to this day we still gather every morning at 4:30 a.m. for prayer, even in winter when it’s minus 30 degrees outside.

Now, our church has grown to 40,000 believers, and we have 1,000 evangelists and pastors. We have seen God perform many remarkable things, which have helped spread his salvation message more widely. Some towns have been so thoroughly saturated with the gospel that now over 80 percent of the people are Christians.

» Read the full story. Also check out The China Chronicles, available in paperback and Kindle editions. Looks like a volume about the growth of the Church in Henan Province coming out next month.

WORLD: Terrorism-Related Deaths Drop for the Fifth Straight Year

Source: Mission Network News, December 8, 2020

According to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index, global deaths from terrorism have fallen for five straight years, even as far-right terrorism emerges as a threat in several western countries. Read the full report.

While deaths from terrorism have been dropping globally, [systemic persecution of Christians] has been on the rise. Pray for Christians facing these difficulties in countries all around the world. Ask God to be with them and strengthen them in love and hope.

» Full story includes comments from Bruce Allen of FMI.

» You might also read 10 Steps Forward for Religious Freedom in 2020 (Open Doors).

MIDDLE EAST (?): A Militant Forsakes a Life of Violence for Christ

Source: Frontiers USA, December 12, 2020

[Ali] was curious about the doctor’s faith in Jesus and asked Hadawi to tell him more. Hadawi shared how he had discovered in God’s Word that Christ has overcome the world and all its evil. Many other men and women in the town also believed in Jesus, Hadawi told Ali. They gathered in groups every week to study the Bible and learn more about following Christ.

“I would like to learn about Jesus,” Ali said. “Can I join one of these groups?”

Hadawi doubted that any of the groups would welcome a militant to study with them. Extremists had terrorized the region, and most townspeople were afraid of men like Ali.

So Hadawi suggested they start a brand-new group. Ali was thrilled. The two men started meeting weekly, working their way through the stories of Old Testament prophets. Then they started reading about Jesus in the gospels.

Ali started inviting his fellow fighters to study the Bible with him and Hadawi. The group grew, and soon it got so big it had to split. More men have joined the groups, multiplying to nearly a dozen Bible studies made up of battle-scarred militants. Many have become baptized followers of Jesus, and the number of groups has continued to grow.

» Read the full story.

WORLD: Terrorism-Related Deaths Drop for the Fifth Straight Year

Source: Mission Network News, December 8, 2020

According to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index, global deaths from terrorism have fallen for five straight years, even as far-right terrorism emerges as a threat in several western countries. Read the full report.

While deaths from terrorism have been dropping globally, [systemic persecution of Christians] has been on the rise. Pray for Christians facing these difficulties in countries all around the world. Ask God to be with them and strengthen them in love and hope.

» Full story includes comments from Bruce Allen of FMI.

» You might also read 10 Steps Forward for Religious Freedom in 2020 (Open Doors).

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION: What Kind of Prayer Would You Like God to Answer?

Source: Pioneers USA, December 16, 2020

A church planting team ran a week-long campaign featuring clips from the JESUS Film. One student responded to an ad with a message saying, “I thought I was the only person feeling so lonely during the pandemic, yet I hear of you Christians and your love for us.” This student was not alone in hearing the love of Christ. At least three people have accepted Christ after responding to these ads.

One of the posts asked, “What kind of prayer you would ask God to answer?”

  • “God, please forgive me,” 105 people replied.
  • “God, please help me with the things that make me afraid,” said 98 people.
  • “Please bring me someone who understands and loves me,” responded 74 people.
  • “God, please show me what choices to make,” said 57 people.

May God answer their prayers and guide those who continue to exchange private messages with the many responding online.

» Complete article includes several more stories about the impact of media ministry.

» You might check out a couple of recent articles from the Jesus Film Project: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Sharing Your Faith with Family and 22 Inspirational Bible Verses for Christmas.

Subversive Mobilization: Christmas Gift Edition

For the 2020 Mobilizing and Mobilizer Christmas Lists, I want to give you a couple of ideas in a variety of cost ranges. These are gifts that will either help people grow in their partnership with God’s global purpose or bless those who are helping people do that.

Stocking Stuffers

 

Smallish Gifts
  • Amazon gift card of whatever amount you determine. “Read something good for you! Neither N.T. Wright nor Jeannie Marie would be terrible!”
  • Netflix access. “Be sure to watch some good documentaries, oh, and The Great British Baking Show!”
  • Chess set: “Your strategic thinking could be improved. It’s going to take more of us thinking well to finish off our shadow king enemy!”
Big-Time Presents
  • Coupon for passport application or renewal. “You fill out the paperwork. I’ll cover the cost!”
  • Workout equipment or a gym membership. “I love you, but I think ‘less of you’ might be a good idea!”
  • Favorite food from far-flung places. “While the pandemic prevents you going in person to Fatima’s Falooda shop in Faroffistan, the snacks will come to you!”
Wow! Seriously?
  • A reliable car. “Stay off planes. Drive places. Buy pastors coffee. Renew their hope a little bit.”
  • Zoom like a boss. “Since you can’t really avoid it, I want to make your Zoom life as clear, comfortable, and trouble-free as possible. Order the stuff and send me the bill.”
  • We fly. I buy. “Here’s the deal: I want you to take me to the edge. Post-vaccine, let’s visit the most unengaged situation we can get access to. You work out the details and I’ll foot the bill. We’ll ask God to strike the ‘un’ from unengaged in the following 18 months.”

From Burundi to Iraq, the US and Europe | News Briefs

  1. IRAQ: The Difference Between Refugees and IDPs
  2. EUROPE (?): “Jesus Is Going to Set You Free Today”
  3. USA: Latest Statistics on International Students
  4. SOMALILAND: Couple Jailed for Evangelism Freed
  5. BURUNDI: How Faith Leaders Helped Bring Peace
Greetings!

We at Missions Catalyst are so thankful for our readers. I can’t speak for Marti or Shane, but I wish I could send every one of you a Christmas card! I hope this will do.

Let me share a little bit about what I’ve been up to. I am one of the first to enroll in The Awakening School of Theology and am in the second semester of an online class about the “unseen realm.” I am loving it! Ponder this, from the instructor, Dr. Michael Heiser: “‘Spiritual warfare’ is the Great Commission!”

My gifts are a few recommendations:

  • Buy An Advent for the Cosmos by Jeffrey Pitts (a fellow student of Dr. Heiser, whose ideas are reflected in this book).
  • Don’t miss all of the wonderful content that Paul Neeley posts at Global Christian Worship. He has collected some wonderful songs and artwork for your Advent season!

Peace of Christ to you and yours,

Pat Noble

IRAQ: The Difference Between Refugees and IDPs (and Why It Matters More Than Ever)

Source: Preemptive Love, November 24, 2020

There are two camps in northern Iraq, separated by a single road, for those who fled war. Neither is what you’d call comfortable. Hardship and hunger are present in both. But when you look at these camps, within sight of each other, you can’t help but see the difference.

In one, concrete houses line mostly paved roads. The structures are tiny and nothing remotely like home. But they’re reasonably sturdy, and they give families a degree of safety and privacy. UN and big aid logos are emblazoned on practically everything. And while the amount of help here is nothing like what it used to be, it’s also not nothing.

Across the road, there are mainly tents—many of them years beyond their useful life. There is far less security here, and far too little help. What meager support there is for the families who live here? It’s disappearing soon.

What makes the difference? One is a refugee camp, and one is a camp for IDPs, or internally displaced people.

The humanitarian aid world is famous for its jargon—for its insider language and acronyms. To the outside observer, it can all seem pretty opaque. But some labels matter. Arguably, none matter more than the labels “refugee” versus “internally displaced person” (IDP).

It may seem like splitting hairs, but the difference between these two categories—and which you fall into if you have to flee your home—can be the difference between getting the help you need… or not.

» See full story with pictures.

» Also read this story about a young man in an IDP camp in Iraq who escaped ISIS to encounter coronavirus—and Christ (Christian Aid Mission).

EUROPE (?): “Jesus Is Going to Set You Free Today”

Source: Assemblies of God World Missions, November 30, 2020

(This article is from AGWM personnel in a sensitive region.)

When “John” walked into the room where “Sara” was sitting, he thought someone had beaten her. She was covered with bruises and staring blankly into space. But her father told John she had been beating herself, punishing herself for almost strangling her three-year-old son in a demonic fit. Relatives had intervened and saved the boy in time, but then sent Sara back to her parents’ home.

Sara had been demon possessed for 13 years and had three failed marriages. She would often climb up on the roof, screaming and cursing at anyone walking by.

In desperation, her parents had reached out to our Roma friend John, whom they heard about from Roma believers in their city. John agreed to come pray for Sara. On the way, he asked two other believers to accompany him, although they really didn’t want to go. John didn’t give them a choice—they were going!

When they arrived, John asked Sara what her name was. She wouldn’t answer and would only stare back at him in frenzied silence.

John said, “Jesus is going to set you free today.” In a deep, inhuman voice that sounded as if a whole choir were speaking, the spirits inside Sara snarled, “No, she’s ours; she belongs to us. She’s cursed.”

» Read full story.

» Readers might also be interested in The Battle for China’s One Billion Souls (Asia Harvest).

USA: Latest Statistics on International Students

Source: Missiologically Thinking (J.D. Payne), November 17, 2020

The Institute for International Education tracks data on students studying at colleges in the United States. Their annual report, Open Doors, is an excellent resource and was released [November 16]. Be sure to check out the 2020 Fast Facts PDF.

The student population exceeds one million international students. However, this past academic year witnessed a two percent decline. Despite this change, the United States remains the top destination for students.

The top sending countries of students to the United States continue to be China, India, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

Many colleges and universities have friendship programs that connect students with citizens. This is a great way to meet and share life with individuals who represent some of the least-reached peoples of the world. Find out what is available in your area.

No passport required. No language learning required. No teaching certificate required. Simply be yourself as you let the gospel shine into the lives of others.

» Read full story.

» Check out three startling statistics that reveal how much the church has changed this year (Outreach Magazine).

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