- Book: Gospel Privilege, the Unearned Advantage Meant for Everyone
- Book: Creating Disruptive Influence in the Ministry You Lead
- Book: Inside the Greatest Chinese Revival in History
- Book: How to Talk to a Missionary
- Video: Mary Magdalene, a Chosen Witness
- Upcoming Events: Training, Retreats, and Webinars
Read or share the email edition or scroll down for individual stories.
Gospel Privilege: The Unearned Advantage That’s Meant for Everyone, by David Joannes. Within Reach Global, 2021. 245 pages.
Find yourself with an unearned spiritual advantage—the grace of the gospel?
“This book is a clarion call for the gospel-privileged to stand in advocacy for and in solidarity with the gospel-deprived, to step beyond our borders, even when it’s risky or uncomfortable, and to share the rich privilege of knowing Christ,” says mission mobilizer and ministry leader David Joannes.
There’s a lot in this book. The author weaves together scripture, history, data, quotes from other books, and stories (primarily but not exclusively from people serving with his ministry in East Asia). The author also tackles moralistic therapeutic deism, consumerist and individualistic approaches to Christianity, Christian nationalism, and today’s debates about social justice.
I found chapter two particularly strong; it explains the issue of gospel access and illustrates it with the story of a woman in China whose life was transformed by the gospel. That might be just what you need as you work on a talk, lesson, or sermon on that topic. Chapter five unpacks a biblical understanding of social justice, leaning on recent work from Tim Keller, and brings it to life with a compelling story from the life of an indigenous missionary in East Asia.
Note that the book seems to assume an American readership and directly challenges American Christianity.
To learn more, visit the author’s website. You can get the book from Amazon (or elsewhere). The Kindle edition is US$9.99 while the paperback is selling for US$12.00. Joannes also wrote The Mind of a Missionary.
The Innovation Crisis: Creating Disruptive Influence in the Ministry You Lead, by Ted Esler. Moody Publishers, August 2021. 288 pages.
If you aren’t innovating, stagnation isn’t far away, says Missio Nexus leader Ted Esler. Ministry leaders carry the burden of keeping their organizations lean, focused, and relevant. Using missions disruptor William Carey as an example, Esler shows how you, too, can innovate and change the ministry landscape.
I haven’t read this one yet; it comes out on August 3. I’m wondering how much it might apply to those of us who are not senior leaders or executives. It looks like the book has a long list of endorsements, though, and perusing a substantial excerpt on the publisher’s website makes me want to read the rest of it.
Learn more or download an excerpt from the Moody website. You can get the book from Amazon or elsewhere. The Kindle edition is US$10.99 and the paperback is priced at US$16.99.
Note that innovation is also the topic for this year’s Missio Nexus Mission Leaders Conference in Dallas, TX September 21-23. Registration (limited due to COVID) is full, but you can participate virtually for US$149 (US$99 for Missio Nexus members).
Henan: Inside the Greatest Christian Revival in History, by Paul Hattaway. Piquant Editions, 2021. 345 pages. The China Chronicles series is an ambitious project by Paul Hattaway, founder of Asia Harvest, to document the advance of Christianity in each province of China, decade by decade, from the time the gospel was introduced to the present day. Henan is the fifth volume, and in some ways, the most important, says the author.
With more Christians than any other province, Henan is home to both the most powerful revival and the most intense persecution. Readers may gain insights that will help prepare them for when persecution comes in their nation, says Hattaway.
Like the other volumes, this one draws on sources about Western missionaries you may know, like Howard and Geraldine Taylor and Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth, but it also tells the stories of many loving and faithful Chinese saints you might not hear about otherwise. Note that some of the contents were previously published in a 2009 book by Hattaway called Henan: The Galilee of China.
Visit the Asia Harvest website. You can buy the book there, from Amazon, or elsewhere. The Kindle edition is US$9.99 and the paperback is priced at US$18.00. It looks like the cover copy may vary slightly.
How to Talk to a Missionary, by Maxine McDonald, Unlikely Publications Global, 2021, 28 pages.
You might meet a missionary at any moment. What will you say? Five furry, feathered, and scaly friends have suggestions.
This playful advice guide is written for adults, illustrated for kids. You can see some of the pictures and hear the whole book read aloud in a five-minute video on the author’s website (scroll to the bottom of the page). Pretty fun!
Get the book from Amazon. The Kindle edition is US$7.99 and the paperback is US$11.99.
If visiting missionaries or the ups and downs of missionary life are on your mind, you might want to read about five critical times when your missionary needs your church’s care (Catalyst Services). Good input.
Source: Jesus Film Project
An unlikely woman’s life is dramatically transformed by a man who will soon change the world forever. In this animated short film, experience the life of Jesus through the eyes of one of his followers, Mary Magdalene.
All the audio in Chosen Witness is from the longer JESUS Film or Magdalena (an hour-long film about Jesus and Mary Magdalene). This series of snapshots from Mary’s story is just under 10 minutes long and available in 38 languages. The website also includes discussion questions.
Looking for sharable scripture videos? Browse The Bible Project.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
August 2 to December 5, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). New online classes begin regularly, including a class August 16 to December 19.
August 4, Church and Agency Partnerships (online). Virtual gathering for church mission leaders. Provided by Missio Nexus.
August 5-7, Support Raising Bookcamp (online). From Support Raising Solutions. This one is entirely in Spanish.
August 8-30, Equipping for Cross-Cultural Life and Ministry (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided regularly by the Center for Intercultural Training.
August 9-13, ABIDE re-entry debriefing for global workers (Joplin, MO, USA). These are now held almost once a month by TRAIN International.
August 10, Practical Tools for Discipleship and Follow-through (online). Webinar from Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.
August 12, Local OR Global vs. Local AND Global (online). Greenhouse workshop for church leaders provided by Pioneers USA.
August 12, Mobilizing the Next Generation (online). Webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.
August 12, Member Care: Coming Attractions (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
August 23-28, Debriefing and Renewal (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Provided regularly by Missionary Training International.
August 25-28, Field Security Seminar (Lake George, CO, USA). Provided by Crisis Consulting International. Another seminar will be held in the same location, August 30 to September 2.
August 26, Women in the Mission of the Church (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
August 30-31, Support Raising Bootcamp (Orlando, FL, USA). Similar events held throughout the year in various locations by Support Raising Solutions.
August 30 to September 12, ORIENT pre-field training for global workers (Eminence, MO, USA).
View the complete calendar. Corrections and submissions are welcome.
- LESOTHO: Flying Pastors Are Spreading the Gospel
- CHINA: Street Preacher Released After Being Held Under Surveillance
- UNDISCLOSED COUNTRY: The JESUS Film at a Terrorist Training Camp
- MUSLIM WORLD: Jesus Appears to an Islamic Scholar in a Dream
- MALI: A Prayer for the Syenara People
Read or share the email version of scroll down for individual stories.
Source: Mission Network News, July 14, 2021
Christianity in Lesotho, a small landlocked nation in southern Africa, is often blended with folk traditions like ancestor worship or witch doctors. (See related article.)
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has partnered with local pastors for their Lesotho Flying Pastors program [which reaches] people in Lesotho’s remote and mountainous regions for Christ.
MAF pilot Joe Adams says, “There’s a lot of undercurrents and quiet obstacles that are a little hard to see at first, especially for those of us that aren’t from the culture. So that is what’s great about the Flying Pastors ministry. We are sending people who are Basotho, who speak the language, who understand the culture, and they’re able to go out and to get to the heart of the issues very quickly and address the challenges that are faced.”
This is what makes the ministry of local pastors so critical.
“It’s not just an evangelism ministry. It’s also a discipleship ministry,” Adams says. “They’re trying to see self-replicating groups of believers [and] churches that will be able to spread the gospel to their own communities.”
Other news from Africa includes several stories about religious liberty: Five abducted Christians in Mali have been freed (International Christian Concern) and a Nigerian pastor was also released after an eight-month abduction (The Christian Post). From Asia, The Christian Post also reports the acquittal of a Pakistani Catholic couple who were on death row for seven years for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages.
Source: International Christian Concern, July 7, 2021
On June 19, Zhejiang Province’s state security officers arrested Chen Wensheng, a Christian from Hengyang City, Hunan province. After transporting him back to Hengyang, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities held Mr. Chen for ten days under residential surveillance at the West Lake Resort.
During his detainment, the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs leaders and the State Security department interrogated Mr. Chen. They tried to get him to stop preaching the gospel on the streets.
Mr. Chen was released on July 8. Throughout his time detained, CCP security officers communicated with him almost continuously. They told MR. Chen that they knew exactly where he had preached the gospel over the last two decades.
According to China Aid, CCP authorities knew all of the trips Mr. Chen had made in that timeline to different places throughout China, as well as the individuals who had traveled with him. The officers even had documented when Mr. Chen had traveled with four other Christians through numerous countries on their way to Tibet, where they preached the gospel.
In response to this unsettling information, Mr. Chen recently said, “Thank God for the CCP’s thorough knowledge of the fact that I go to different places to preach the gospel. They recounted my record as if they were enumerating the heirlooms of their own family. Authorities also told me that by 2021, I had been to other regions to proclaim the gospel more than 1,000 times.”
Regarding China, see More Nations Formally Recognizing the Genocide Against Uyghurs in China (Jubilee Campaign), On The Uyghur Genocide (Southern Baptist Convention), Is This China’s Final Solution for the Uyghurs? (Mission Frontiers) and Where Are the Voices of Central Asian and Russian Uyghurs? (Global Voices).
Source: God Reports, June 10, 2021
Every day a “JESUS” film team here begins their ministry with the same prayer. “Holy Spirit, where should we go today?” One day as they walked and prayed, they heard the voices of children. Following the sound, the team entered a compound filled with children and began talking to them about Jesus.
The police heard what they were doing, moved in, and arrested them. Before being hauled away a team member had the presence of mind to quickly turn on a NewLifeBox in his backpack… leaving the backpack behind.
[Later] the team made their way back to the compound to retrieve the backpack. To their amazement hundreds of children were quiet, sitting in groups, eyes fixed on their smartphones, watching something…but what?
As they got closer, their best hope was confirmed: the children were watching the film “JESUS” on their phones. You see, the battery-powered NewLifeBox they left behind creates a Wi-Fi hotspot, inviting anyone looking for a hotspot, and within 150 feet, to watch a film about Jesus.
Later, the team learned that the compound was a training center for the children of wealthy militants.
Showing the JESUS Film to children without their parents knowing may make us squirm, but consider reports that a recent massacre in Burkina Faso was carried out mostly by children, according to the UN and the country’s government. More than 130 people were killed (The Guardian).
Source: Frontiers USA, July 7, 2021
“Do you know anything about Jesus Christ?” asked Ismail, a Muslim stranger standing at Driss’s door.
Ismail explained that Jesus had appeared to him in a dream and instructed him to come to this exact house to learn about Him.
Driss invited him in and told Ismail that he had recently become a follower of Jesus. He wasn’t sure he could answer all of Ismail’s questions. But he would certainly try. Driss felt excited at the chance to try answering Ismail’s questions about Christ.
Then Ismail explained that he was an Islamic scholar, and Driss panicked.
Driss was an uneducated man, and he worried that his answers would sound foolish to the high-status religious leader. The new believer had been studying God’s Word with Joseph, a Frontiers worker. But Driss knew he still had much to learn from the Bible.
“I have a friend who knows more about Jesus than I do,” Driss backpedaled. “He can answer your questions better than I can.” He called Joseph and asked him to come over.
When Joseph arrived, Ismail asked him question after question. Their discussion lasted hours. Ismail kept asking to hear more about Jesus.
Finally, Joseph suggested they finish for the day. Then he said, “But I think you two should meet together and study God’s Word to learn more.”
Again, Driss felt panic rising inside him. “Joseph is sending me to the wolves,” he thought. “I’m a simple man. I’ll certainly fail!”
Read the full story to find out what happened next.
Source: Jeff Frazee, via World Venture, June 26, 2021
The Syenara people of Mali are subsistence farmers and animists. Numbering about 200,000 people, they are one of about 30 dialects of the Senoufo people of West Africa are a subgroup of the Senoufo people of West Africa. The Syenara speak to their idols in their own language, but they speak to Allah only in Arabic, which they don’t understand.
Let us ask God to make himself known as the loving father he is, that he might be worshiped rightly in their language, too.
Read about a visit to the Syenara and watch the short (4.5-minute) video, Syenara Prayer, below.
Does it bug you as it does me when people tell others to do something you’re pretty sure they’re not doing themselves? I bet my kids wonder about this when I tell them to take naps, but I stay awake.
Of course, they’ve no idea how much I’d love to take a nap too!
You know the old saying, “Those can’t do, teach.” Hoping to avoid proving this, I work hard to not ask anyone, including you, to do something I’m not willing to do myself.
But this month, I’m sealing the deal. I’m going to implement each of the following ideas. If it goes well, I’ll write about it. If not, I’ll sweep it under the rug! So here we go. Brief but binding.1. Get (or renew) your passport!
I know, you couldn’t have traveled this past year if you wanted to, so why bother? Well, my friends, that ship has sailed. Many ships are sailing again, planes are flying, trains are tracking, and God may be fixing to invite you to go somewhere super cool. Most of the least-loved lands on the planet pretty much insist on a passport to let you in. If you don’t have one, it’s very difficult to obey God if he asks you to go love the people there.
If you live in the U.S. and want a passport, say for a possible trip with me next spring to reach out to Muslim immigrants in Italy, you may want to get on it. According to the State Department, “Routine service can take up to 18 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received!” (The exclamation mark at the end of that sentence is mine. The chill State Department felt like a period would suffice. But 18 weeks deserves an exclamation point!)
Few things are as easy, appropriate, and beneficial as saying thank you.
It blesses people to be thanked. It temporarily lowers your social status relative to another person, but in a healthy way. “I received something I needed from you and I’m grateful.” I think it may even boost your sense of gratitude and happiness. One way to count your blessings is to thank those who brought them into your life.
Around 100 people support my work financially most months. I’m going to give each of them a personal thank you before another edition of Practical Mobilization hits your inbox.
Got anyone you could thank? Maybe…
- Thank you for the impact and influence you’ve had on my life.
- Thank you for your years of hard work that accomplished worthwhile stuff for the kingdom of God.
- Thank you for looking me in the face and saying you accept me. Jesus was speaking through you then.
By the way, thank you for reading Missions Catalyst. I honestly and deeply appreciate it.3. Restart the church missions emphasis.
If your church is getting back together in person, maybe this fall would be a good time to grab some weeks to emphasize a big God’s purposes for a big world. Here’s what I’m thinking:
- Ask for three Sundays, but settle for two.
- Book a speaker. As gifted as your pastor and others at your church are, there’s something powerful about an outside person talking about things like reaching the unreached. Pro tip: Many speakers have not been speaking much due to COVID. You may want to tell them they have less time than they do, in anticipation of enthusiastic overrun!
- Design and order a cool, tangible item to give everyone that will connect people to your ongoing mission efforts and remind them to pray. I’m thinking of a stress ball globe with something printed on it that I haven’t come up with yet. You could also go with a bookmark, fridge magnet, or a pen. All solid options. I’d advise against scented putty. Too many ways that’s going to go bad!
I can guess what you’re thinking: “Hey, if we buy a little doodad for everyone, we won’t have money for the speaker’s honorarium!” Wanna hear a little secret? Having been grounded by COVID, many missions speakers are chomping at the bit so much they’ll speak for free. (On second thought, that might only apply to me!)
Finding a good theme is an early challenge for a missions emphasis time. You want something that builds curiosity and inspires interest and involvement. And it needs to go hand in hand with the giveaway.
To spark your creativity and entice your involvement, I’m awarding a $25 Amazon card to the person who posts the best theme/giveaway combo for a fall 2021 church missions emphasis.
Share your best stuff here.
You’re probably a better pray-er than me. I lean heavily (inappropriately) toward taking action on my own, rather than praying for God to take action. It’s tough enough to pray for things present right in our own lives. When we toss the net out to include the whole wide world, people we don’t know, places we’ll never visit, it’s a wonder any of us pray for the nations!
But you don’t have to be very analytical to wonder when, at current rates we’re going to accomplish what God has in mind in terms of gathering his harvest. There’s so much to do, time is of the essence, and it seems like so few are about this work.
So, I’m encouraged to pray. More and better. And invite others to join me.
A small step any of us—heck, all of us—could take is to set a recurring alarm on our phone at 10.02 am, and when it buzzes take a moment to pray Luke 10.2 as Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
I’m committing to the near-daily journaling of a brief prayer for the nations. I’m also going to invite our elder team to do the Luke 10.2 prayer!
If you have prayer advice for me, I’d love to hear it. Shoot me an email. Maybe you can help spark content for a future Practical Mobilization article.
Grace to you as you both pray and take the action God invites you to take.
See you in August with more summer short shot ideas.
In This Issue:
- INDIA: Christians Celebrate First Indian Christian Day
- BANGLADESH: Minorities Protest Islam Being the State Religion
- EAST AFRICA: A Novel Media Ministry Boosts a Movement
- USA: “I Never Expected to Be a Refugee”
- MONGOLIA: A Ministry on the Mountaintops
Read or share the email edition or scroll down for individual stories.
Source: International Christian Concern, July 3, 2021
On July 3, Christians of all denominations in India [celebrated] the first Indian Christian Day. According to the founders of the event, July 3 was chosen because it is traditionally observed as Saint Thomas Day, the day celebrating Saint Thomas the Apostle who came to India in 52 AD and brought the message of Jesus.
“By marking it in 2021, and every year henceforth, we, as followers of Jesus, can preserve our identity within India’s cultural heritage, while uniting with all those who wish to celebrate it, irrespective of language, custom, creed, region, or religion,” the event’s founders claimed.
Father Babu Joseph, a former spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said the initiative will also help Christianity overcome the false narratives spread by Hindu nationalists.
“This is an important step in making Christianity part of Indian history and ethos,” Father Joseph told Asia News. “In light of attempts by some right-wing organizations to create the impression that Christianity is foreign in India, it is necessary to highlight its antiquity in the country.”
Read the full story and visit the website for Indian Christian Day, which adds that the observance launches a decade of celebration leading up to the 2000th anniversary of the earthly ministry of Jesus.
See also results of a Pew Research Center survey that asked 30,000 Indians from six religions about their attitudes toward other religions.
Finally, intercede for the church in neighboring Nepal as they navigate a leadership crisis. The Nepali church has lost more than 130 pastors to COVID-19 during a second wave of the pandemic (Christianity Today).
Source: Mission Network News, June 29, 2021
Earlier this month, religious minorities in Bangladesh gathered for the annual Black Day protests. They want Islam to no longer be given the status of state religion, which it has held since 1988.
Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists in the country point out the original constitution still calls Bangladesh a secular state, contradicting the amendment [that declares Islam the state religion]. Ultimately, they want the amendment removed from the constitution. In the meantime, they want a minority commission established to help protect against injustice.
Ask God to give Christians in Bangladesh grace and wisdom. Pray that they would know when to speak up for their rights and when to live quietly.
Bangladesh is also seeing a huge surge of COVID cases (NPR) with migrant workers recently scrambling to leave Dhaka and return to their villages (South China Morning Post).
See also Pray for COVID-19 Hotspot Nations (INcontext Ministries).
Source: Mobile Ministry Forum, June 2021
Pedro is a church planter working among the Yao people. They are an unreached people group with three million people living in Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania.
Recently, the COVID-19 travel lockdowns have made it difficult for Pedro and his team to reach the remote villages where they had seen God moving powerfully.
Pedro knew that one of the major cell companies was offering [US$8] phones, along with cheap phone lines that gave unlimited talk minutes very inexpensively. He also saw that there were now Bluetooth speakers selling for only US$10-15. What could be done if, in the midst of COVID-19 travel restrictions, he combined the Discovery Bible Study model with pairs of these low cost phones and speakers, if they could be distributed among widespread villages?
The results have been amazing. Groups gather at a set time in villages, then Pedro calls their mobile phone. Seated around the phone and speaker, the group can hear Pedro and interact, ask questions, and have fellowship. With this method, Pedro has been able to reach people in villages hundreds of kilometers away. Pedro and his trained movement leaders now use this mobile media package to increase their sphere of ministry. Hundreds of new Yao believers have joined the movement since the pandemic hit their country. In two weeks, 300 people came to the Lord.
You might also be interested in a case study about digital outreach ministry in several countries of Southern Europe (Media to Movements).
Note that media ministry may be difficult or even illegal in some places. Back to Jerusalem reports that North Korea is cracking down on the use of Chinese-made mobile phones, as the authorities equate international phone communication with espionage. You’ll have to read their story (or another from Daily NK) to learn about a surprising connection to the country’s annual “Struggle Against US Imperialism” month observance.
Source: Haggai International, July 2021
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17
Mongolia boasts some of the highest peaks in the world, and it is also the home of Haggai [ministry] leader Lkhagva-Erdene Namkhaidorj. An extreme mountain climber, Lkhagva-Erdene is no stranger to setting audacious goals and pushing through adversity. When she attended the Haggai Leader Experience in 2017, she realized that her passion for climbing could be woven together with her desire to advance the gospel.
“I have been hiking and climbing mountains since 2012. Before Haggai, I climbed by myself for sheer pleasure. After I came back to Mongolia, I started to contact some mountaineers and hike with them. I wanted to witness through my life and behavior.”
[Now] she has helped equip more than 100 leaders.
Many mountains are considered sacred in Mongolia, and when members of her expedition team asked why Lkhagva-Erdene didn’t participate in their religious rituals, she was able to share the gospel: “As soon as I get to any peak of the mountain, I worship the Creator of the mountain, the living God.”
See also Serving in Rural Mongolia (Pioneers Australia).
Source: World Relief, June 10, 2021
I never expected to be a refugee. I joined a university when I was 18 years old, enrolling in the English department at Basra (the Port of Iraq). At the end of my time there, I graduated second in my department. After graduation, I stayed two more years as a researcher’s assistant and then five more years when I was accepted for my master’s in the linguistics program.
I became a professor in 1987 and moved to Baghdad in 1992 to teach undergraduate and postgraduate students of the English Department at Baghdad University College of Education for Women. Life felt almost perfect.
Then, in 2003, the unexpected happened. The United States invaded Iraq. This is when my life would change forever.
In hopes to rebuild my country, I stayed three years after the US military arrived. However, the targeted people were the Iraqi brains. Doctors, professors, scientists and engineers were receiving life threats daily. I knew it was only a matter of time before they reached me.
The full story describes what life was like for Amira when she and her family arrived in the US. See also 8 Things You Should Know About Refugees (free ebook).