Source: Open Doors, April 15, 2019
Three years ago, the church in Syria was all but dead. The vicious civil war and invasion by Islamic State militants threatened the very existence of Christianity. But our partners on the ground say the story is changing and continues to transform. God is resurrecting the church in Syria.
Still, becoming a Christian and expressing your faith in the Muslim nation (814,000 Christians out of 18 million people) is a risky choice. If or when their conversion is discovered, new believers could lose their family, friends, their job, even their life.
Recently, we were privileged to be there when a group of young adults from the Alliance Church in the city of Aleppo gathered to worship. Listen and sing along with them as they proclaim, “Christ the Lord is risen today.”
Source: INcontext Ministries, April 9, 2019
During the first three months of 2019, hundreds of lives were lost, and hundreds of homes were burned, raising new concerns about the truth behind the violence occurring between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and predominantly Christian Bachama farmers in Nigeria.
In addition to the seemingly countless numbers of people killed, it has been estimated that as many as 300,000 people (mostly Christian farmers) have been displaced from their homes by the violence.
[Some narratives] label the Muslim Fulani attacks against Christian farmers as a “genocide” perpetrated by radicalized Muslims looking to drive Christians from their homes. But even though this might be fully true, it is not the full truth.
» Read more.
» See also Seeking God on the Edge of the Sahara (Pioneers USA).
Source: WEA News, April 14, 2019
The Senior Leadership Team of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) together with several regional Alliance and WEA network leaders attended the Opening Celebration of the AEA Plaza. The 10-story building in Nairobi, Kenya, that will serve as the new headquarters of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa is the fulfilment of a vision and the result of many years of labor. Bp Efraim Tendero, WEA Secretary General, was invited to share remarks at the ceremony and commended the great achievement, saying “Africa, your time has come!”
» Also read an article that states, “Africa is set to be the global center of Christianity for the next 50 years” (QuartzAfrica).
Source: Christian Headlines, March 21, 2019
“In the West, we often take the Bible for granted, but I recently saw a video … of underground Chinese seminary students receiving their first Bible,” wrote Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern. “When the boxes were opened, they all converged on the box to make sure they got their own copy. Each one then held their Bible, kissed it, and wept. They had finally received the book that gives life!”
The video is at least five years old and shows several dozen Christians in a building opening the box. International Christian Concern said none of the Christians are in danger because of its release. International Christian Concern posted the video on its website and on social media this month as part of its new campaign to raise money for Bibles to be sent to countries where Christianity is either outlawed or severely restricted.
Christians in the US said the video is convicting.
“If only we had the same zeal as these students,” Susan Elise Pearson wrote on International Christian Concern’s Facebook page.
Charity Meyer [added], “How beautiful. It made me realize how much I take reading and holding my Bible for granted and that my life is so easy.”
Satan “knows well that the Bible is the most dangerous book in the world,” King said.
“Everywhere it goes, it smuggles Jesus and his Spirit into the hearts of dead and dying humanity, and exposes Satan and his schemes,” King wrote. “The Bible is, in fact, spiritual fertilizer. Everywhere it goes, life springs up.”
» Read full story and watch the video (less than a minute long).
» See also a video about a small tribe in Northeast India receiving scripture lovingly translated into their language for the first time (Asia Harvest), and read North Korea: More than 100 Underground Churches Planted in 2018 (Cornerstone Ministries via God Reports).
Sources: various, April 2019
This was all over the news, but here are a few pieces we recommend:
- Notre Dame: Grieving the Wreckage, Holding onto Hope (Preemptive Love Coalition)
- 9 Things You Should Know about Notre Dame Cathedral (The Gospel Coalition)
- Assessing the Damage at Notre Dame Cathedral – in Pictures (The Guardian). See also a 40-second video of the inside as firemen work.
» See also, from a ministry colleague, May God Bring Beauty from Ashes in France, which includes scripture and links to other sources (Jen Oshman).
By Shane Bennett
Here in my corner of the world, spring is gloriously breaking out all over the place. With it comes the proliferation of three things:
- New life, thanks be to God.
- Allergies, thanks to the Fall.
- Short-term mission-trip funding requests, thanks to the upwards of two million short-term-mission participants sent out each year by America alone!
The number of requests you receive may correlate closely to how much money you have given in response to past requests. So, if you’re complaining about the stack of letters on your kitchen counter, realize it’s like a war veteran whining about the weight of the medals on his dress uniform. You did this to yourself. But now, what to do about it?
What if this year we all made a concerted effort to really help the short-termers who reach out to us? The Great Commandment (love God, love people) may apply even more than the Great Commission.
Here are five ways you might show love to mission trippers.1. Give them money.
This is why you read Missions Catalyst, right? For surprising, unforeseen insights such as “give money to someone who’s raising support to go on a short-term mission trip.” Of course this is a way to love them!
But seriously, there’s only so much of this kind of love to go around, right? How do you choose how much and to whom? Consider these options. You’re smart; pick the criteria that seem best to you.
- First come, first served. This will reward the go-getters who actually follow their organization’s fundraising schedule!
- Give when they make it easy. Prioritize those who crowdsource or who email their letters and include an online giving link. Who uses checks anymore?
- Give when the ask is personal. Only give to those who make their request in person or by printed letter and take the time to sign it. Unless it’s a blood relative, in which case you may be close enough to give both money and a scolding.
- Give when it’s strategic. Only give to those you sense are meeting real needs in a way that short termers can do well.
- Give a little bit to everyone who asks. This is kind and generous, but also a sure way to multiply the number of requests you’re looking at this time next year.
- Have a focus. Decide on a type of work or a geographic area to which you’ll give. Bless the rest, but stick to your plan.
God alone knows how large a donation has to be before it outweighs heartfelt prayer, but I suspect it’s more money than I’ll see in my lifetime. You know prayer matters! You also know it’s easy to check the prayer box to say you’ll pray, and then forget. (Unless that’s just me?)
Make your prayer commitment meaningful by asking for regular prayer requests. Maybe daily ones for a trip that’s two weeks or less, weekly for a longer experience. With a little thought, most can come up with such a list prior to departure.
Some good buds recently participated in a huge, multi-day prayer gathering for unreached peoples and sent out this crazy great prayer guide in advance. Check it out. It might serve as an inspiration for you or someone you’re helping to go.
You could also show love by writing your prayers in a text or email or calling them and praying live. What about taking their prayer requests to an ongoing group you are part of?3. Give them advice.
I know, I know, you’re thinking, “What advice do I have about missions?” Or maybe, on the contrary, you don’t want to break your new year’s resolution to stop telling other people how to live their lives (again!) But you probably do have some words of wisdom. And can I tell you something? If you deliver them right, they will even bless your friend.
Your advice may be as simple as, “Read this article, Nine Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Mission Trip. You’ll benefit.”
You can also think for a moment of a key way God challenged you during a short-term trip and share that, or even a way the Lord has spoken to you in a sermon or your devotions recently.
You may want to provide a word of warning or counsel. You know: don’t fall in love with your team leader or local translator. Do consult with your team leader before going off with a friend or starting a multi-day fast. Give ongoing attention to how God is using your experience to transform you. Drink more water if your pee gets dark and smelly.4. Give them a shout.
Over the course of my career I’ve gone from frantically throwing tokens in a Turkish pay phone for a once-a-summer, 90-second call, to now enjoying leisurely, multi-participant video chats at will! Technology allows for—to the point of almost demanding—instant global contact. This does cause some problems (“Stop chatting with your girlfriend back home and pay attention to this local person we flew across the ocean to hang out with!!”)
While keeping that in mind, consider reaching out and communicating with the person you helped send. A ping or two over the course of a week-long trip or weekly for a summer-length project wouldn’t be intrusive but could be super encouraging.
Simply let them know you’re thinking of them. Use the communique to tell them how you’re praying. Pat them on their virtual back and say, “You’re doing good, kid!”5. Give them follow up.
Finally, one of the best ways you can show love is to follow up with the short-termer after they get back. I’m thinking a coffee-centric event in which two things happen:
- You listen and ask good follow-up questions. I’ve never met a returned short-term goofball who said, “Ugh, if one more person buys me coffee and lets me tell them about the trip, I’ll scream!!” One of the best ways to love someone is to listen to their stories.
- You show up packing some good questions. I assume most sending organizations provide their participants some sort of debrief. On the off chance they don’t, be ready. And even if they do, doubling down on this never hurt anyone.
Here are four easy-to-remember, worthwhile-to-answer, debrief questions:
- How did you win?
- How did you lose?
- What did God teach you?
- How does this trip fit into the rest of your life?
Ask those questions and the follow-up ones that emerge from their answers and your short-term bud will feel the love.Conclusion
Ministry people debate the value of short-term missions ad nauseam. You could probably argue both sides of the debate intelligently. But maybe, like me, you feel it’s often a waste of time. The goofballs are going to go! And some of them are not even goofballs. God will delight to use them. And they’re going to ask us to help them succeed.
This summer, let’s go above and beyond. Perhaps we’ll be honored to play a small part in a mighty kingdom harvest.
- ALGERIA: 1,000 Muslim-Background Missionaries
- UK: Iranian Christian Denied Asylum Because “Christianity Isn’t a Peaceful Religion”
- TURKEY: Youth Declares Faith to Fiercely Resistant Family
- NIGERIA: Christian Clergy Caught in Wave of Kidnappings
- SOUTH ASIA: Monks Turn to Christ
In addition to today’s news brief stories, I’d like to share three items you may find useful for engaging conversations.
- Justin Long identifies five big states or provinces that 625 million call home… including more than 10% of the world’s non-Christians, and about a quarter of the world’s unevangelized population. “This makes these five provinces worthy of significant strategic focus. Change any one of these provinces, and world Christianity and world mission will be forever altered. But the cost of doing so will likely be very high.” Can you guess what places made The Big 5?
- Check out the informative and interactive site, How the World Votes (Al Jazeera). Pray for countries with big elections this year.
- Finally, take a quiz on Hinduism (Marge Network). I only got three of the seven questions right! See if you can beat me.
Algerians for Missions aims to send out 1,000 Algerian mission workers by 2025. The training center mentioned in this video opened in December 2017. See related story below about how God is using this ministry (Operation Mobilization).
Source: Operation Mobilization, March 22, 2019
“I’m so excited that God is working mightily in Algeria. You might have heard about the revival; you might have heard about people becoming Christians. …But when you are there for yourself and you see for yourself, then you begin to be reminded that God is so powerful,” Hee Tee said. In 1988, she and her husband, Youssef, OM Field Leader for Algeria, returned to his native country to pioneer church planting and discipleship ministry there.
Now, with churches filled and thousands of people coming to faith, the couple recognize a new need: believers in Algeria know about Jesus, but they don’t know about missions.
Algerians for Missions, Youssef and Hee Tee’s new ministry passion, aims to send out 1,000 Algerians for missions by 2025 within Algeria and beyond. By the end of 2018, Youssef reported that 130 Algerians had already been sent on short-term trips.
To facilitate this process, Youssef and Hee Tee advocated for, fundraised, and oversaw the building of a new missions training center: the Timothy Mission School. “That building, as far as I know, is the first in the whole Middle East and North Africa that recruits Muslim-background believers, trains them and sends them out for missions,” Youssef stated.
“Truly God has a special plan for the Algerian church, and he is putting all the puzzles together to accomplish his plan,” Hee Tee said.
» Speaking of Algeria and its gifts to the church, have you seen the new movie Augustine, Son of Her Tears? It looks like a good one!
Source: Christian Headlines, March 25, 2019
According to The Washington Examiner, the UK’s Home Office, which oversees immigration and passports, rejected a man’s application for asylum, saying the applicant’s claim that Christianity is “peaceful” is “inconsistent” with the Bible.
The Home Office said in its denial letter that books of the Bible such as Leviticus, Exodus, Matthew, and Revelation are “filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death, and violence.”
“These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion, as opposed to Islam which contains violence, rage, and revenge,” the letter says.
A legal expert told The Examiner that its likely that this decision is more anti-asylum than anti-Christian.
“The Home Office is notorious for coming up with any reason they can to refuse asylum and this looks like a particularly creative example, but not necessarily a systemic outbreak of anti-Christian sentiment in the department,” legal expert Conor James said.
In an opinion column for The Examiner, Becket Adams said there seems to be a “trend in the UK of government officials taking explicitly anti-Christian positions.”
» In other news related to global migration, readers might be interested in the story of an eight-year-old refugee who won the New York State chess championship—and evidently many people’s hearts.
Source: SAT-7, March 21, 2019
“I grew up with a lot of religious people around me. Faith interested me, and I started researching different religions on the internet, but I had a preconception that Christianity was bad,” [explains Kaya, a young man who serves with SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry].
“My father took me for a walk one day, and he took me to a church. He just wanted to go for a walk, but I believe that God used my father without him realizing it.
“As soon as I stepped inside the church, I felt like I had entered a different world, and I was filled with peace. When I look back on it, I realize that it was the Holy Spirit. For a year, I continued to search and think about God. I was very confused, but I just prayed, ‘God guide me to the truth.’”
“On Christmas Eve, I was reading the Bible and suddenly I felt that Jesus Christ stood in front of me. I couldn’t grasp what was happening at the time.
“I immediately got down on my knees and said, ‘Jesus Christ, I believe in you.’ I was twelve years old at the time, but I knew that I had found my purpose in life.”
» Full story describes the explains the struggles and uneasy truce young Kaya and his family have experienced. These tensions are not uncommon in Turkey (or other places), so Kaya is able to relate to, encourage, and pray with listeners who contact SAT-7.
» Also from Turkey: The Turkish president says he intends to turn the Hagia Sophia into a mosque again.
Source: Morning Star News, March 28, 2019
Amid a nationwide wave of kidnappings, the Rev. Emmanuel Haruna of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) was kidnapped at gunpoint outside his home on church premises in Gidan Ausa, Nasarawa state.
“He was making a phone call by his house when some men shot into the air and took him away,” the Rev. Romanus Ebenwokodi, ECWA spokesman, told Morning Star News. “Please pray for his safety and release.”
Earlier on Monday (March 25) in Kaduna state, gunmen reportedly abducted the Rev. John Bako Shekwolo, priest of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Ankwa Kachia County, according to an archdiocese statement. Little else was known at this writing.
In Nasarawa state, Pastor Haruna leads an ECWA congregation in Gidan Ausa, near Lafia, the state capital. Also chaplain of the Boys Brigade, Nasarawa State Council, he was said to be searching for a better signal to make a phone call when he was kidnapped after 10pm. A statement from the Nasarawa State Council confirmed the kidnapping.
» Read full story, which details other incidents, and pray for those involved.
» See also Islamist Terror and Supernatural Deliverance in Nigeria (Gateway News). For in-depth analysis, listen to an interview with Alex Thurston, Episode 123: Boko Haram (Africa Past and Present Podcast).
Source: Mission Network News, March 20, 2019
A [Christian] man named Elijah was leading a training event when a Buddhist monk came across the meeting. Elijah invited the Buddhist monk in, and the monk stayed for the rest of the day.
Once training for the day concluded, the monk asked Elijah if he could return the next day, but with two friends. Elijah agreed. Sure enough, the following day brought three Buddhist monks to the training.
“As they were hearing in the discipleship classes about who Jesus is, and what he does, and intimacy with Jesus, and what it means to be a Christian, then they finally explained to Elijah ‘well, somebody has to be wrong here. Either Buddha is God or Jesus is God,’” explains Tim [spokesman for a partner ministry, Global Disciples].
“They asked Elijah if he would be willing to test and to see who really was God. They would go to a forest, and they would fast and pray, and if God or Jesus could bring lunch to them, and if he could make it rain, then those three Buddhist monks agreed that they would them accept Jesus as Lord.”
The men traveled to the jungle and once there, they prayed. Tim relays that at exactly 12:30pm, there was a man hollering in the forest. The stranger stumbled into the opening where Elijah and the three monks were. The man was lost, but as they talked together, he opened his bag and shared his food with Elijah and the monks.
“God gave them their first miracle,” Tim says.
However, it still needed to rain. The catch? It was the dry season for this region. Tim says on this particular day there were no clouds in the sky. Eventually, the monks left the forest, unconvinced by the meal.
“[Elijah] wrestled with God, even so much so that his whole body was sweating, and he was wrestling, and he was wondering ‘God, do you really do things like this? Would you make it rain?’” Tim says.
Elijah finally returned home and about five o’clock that evening clouds began to form and it rained so hard that they had to cancel their evening service, and the Buddhist monks couldn’t even come to the service that evening.”
The next morning, the three Buddhist monks returned to where Elijah was leading the training, and they proclaimed Jesus Christ to be Lord. Tim says they were secretly baptized by Elijah. They even left their Buddhist priestly robes in the area of the forest where they had met with Elijah as a symbolic gesture of leaving their old lives to begin a new life in Jesus.
“Today, those three Buddhist monks are evangelizing and they’re working among drug addicts in their country.”
» Also read about a series of miracles that helped launch a movement in India (YWAM Frontier Missions) and take a look at a slide show about the baptism of 520 in Chon Daen from Northern Thailand (Change the Map). Just watching this really lifted my spirit! Watch it!
- COURSE: Pathways to Global Understanding
- VIDEOS: Five-pronged Strategy for Reaching the Unreached
- BOOK: More Disciples, a Guide to Multiplying Followers of Jesus
- BOOK: Volume Two of the China Chronicles
- PROJECT: The Wall of Answered Prayer
- EVENTS: Coming Up in April
A warm welcome to new subscribers from a couple of Perspectives classes in Alabama! Like what you read? Please share it.
Source: Pathways to Global Understanding
Looking for a mission curriculum to use with a class or small group? Want something that covers the biblical foundations but also historic, strategic, and cultural dimensions, and includes media and case studies? Check out Pathways to Global Understanding.
This curriculum, edited by Meg Crossman, been around for quite a while and you may have seen it. Now, though, there’s a set of 12, half-hour teaching videos and leader’s guides that make it easy to run your own group. Pathways has also put together a great resource list you can use to augment the sessions. (It’s worth creating an account just for that.)
All this is free, but to get the most out of it, each participant should get a copy of the (468-page) book and read the articles on each topic.
» Wondering how Pathways compares with the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course? I’d say it very covers similar ground but with less depth in some areas. You may find it easier to digest and implement. See also XPlore, Momentum, and Storyline.
Source: Brigada Today, February 17, 2019
Our friends at Beyond have boiled down a five-step strategy for reaching an unreached people group. They see it as prayer, prayerwalking, first contact, miracles and healing, then discipleship. They’ve created a quick intro video for each of those five prongs. See them at:
» Visit the video landing page, and while you’re there, check out their Nugget Trainings (to attend online) on topics like how to lead a discovery Bible study or how to become a strategic missionary.
» More videos! Missio Nexus recently put on a virtual conference featuring short presentations from a wide variety of mission leaders and subject-area specialists. The OnMission videos are still available to watch at your own pace, with transcripts, discussion questions, and other resources. Check them out not only for what you can learn but to find stories, data, and illustrations to use in helping others.
Source: WIGTake Resources
More Disciples: A Guide to Becoming and Multiplying Followers of Jesus, by Doug Lucas. WIGTake Resources, 2019, 248 pages.
As a follower of Jesus, what’s the one thing you can take with you from this life to the next? The answer: more disciples.
More Disciples is a practical, how-to guidebook that lays out a clear path for learning and implementing church-planting movement and disciple-making movement strategies and life principles. In particular, it describes the key concepts used in the web-based Zume Project course.
Quite a few other CPM and DMM books have been written at this point. Each has a somewhat different emphasis or audience. This one is definitely for practitioners; you will probably feel uncomfortable if your intention is just to read about making disciples and not do it! The author is passionate and practical but not dogmatic, calling instead for unity around the more timeless and universal of disciple-making principles.
Read all the other DMM books? I think you’ll want to pick this one up, too. You will find something fresh and new. But it is also thorough enough to make a good starting place if you are just getting started.
Lucas, a mission agency leader, is both well versed and well connected. The book includes a foreword by David Garrison and an introduction and epilogue from Curtis Sergeant along with endorsements from other leaders and references to other resources.
» Purchase from Amazon (or elsewhere). The Kindle edition is US$9.99 and a paperback can be yours for a few dollars more. See also the companion website, MoreDisciples.com. The creators are in the process of updating it.
Source: Asia Harvest
Guizhou: The Previous Province, by Paul Hattaway. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2019. 320 pages.
Most of us have heard about the phenomenal growth of the Church in China over the last century, and we may know that this growth came in the furnace of intense persecution. But how did it all happen?
The China Chronicles series is an ambitious project to document the advance of Christianity in each province of China, decade by decade, from the time the gospel was introduced there to the present day.
Author and friend of the Chinese church Paul Hattaway has spent hundreds of hours interviewing Chinese believers so their stories can be shared and remembered.
Volume one took us to Shandong Province, home to almost 100 million people. It includes narratives about foreign missionaries (e.g., Lottie Moon) and Chinese movements (the Evangelistic Bands, the Jesus Family), as well as never-before-published testimonies from Chinese church leaders.
Volume two details ministry, challenges, and church growth in Guizhou, today home to 35 million people, including some 2.7 million who identify as Christians. Particularly helpful are the author’s explanations of the province’s minority groups, including the Miao and Nosu, and how success on some fronts helped or hindered the spread of the gospel among others. I found it both instructive and inspiring.
» Learn more or purchase from Amazon (or elsewhere). The Kindle edition is US$7.99 and you can get the paperback for US$15.
Source: The Wall of Answered Prayer
Imagine a wall with a million bricks, each one representing an answered prayer, and an online database of testimonies sharing the same answered prayers with people all over the world. A group in the UK is putting this together and invite us to be part of it.
» To learn more or share your inspiring Jesus stories, visit the website or take a minute to watch this quick video about it. I’m particularly intrigued by their strategy for attaching the testimonies to the bricks. (Where else could we try that?)
» Speaking of prayer, 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World is coming up soon (May 6 to June 4). Are you ready? Some of the same people are organizing 15 days of Prayer for the Hindu World (October 20 to November 3) as well as 15 Days of Prayer for the Buddhist World (anytime!)
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
April 1 to August 4, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online).
April 5-6, People Raising Conference (Oak Brook, IL, USA). Be equipped for raising personal support.
April 9, Nugget Training: Discovery Bible Study (online). How to help others hear from God. Provided by Beyond.
April 12-13, The Journey Deepens (Portland, OR, USA). A weekend retreat for prospective missionaries.
April 14-26, Second Language Acquisition Course (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.
April 15 to May 22, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Mission Training International.
April 16-17, Support Raising Bootcamp (Fayetteville, AR, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.
April 18, Jesus in the Secular World #1: Understanding Global Secularization (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
April 22 to May 5, ORIENT pre-field training for global workers (Eminence, MO, USA).
April 23, Nugget Training: Here I Am… Send Me (online). 13 steps to becoming a strategic missionary. Provided by Beyond.
April 18, Jesus in the Secular World #2: Responding to Global Secularization (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
April 25-27, B4T Expo (Houston, TX, USA). Business for Transformation Exposition from OPEN USA.
April 26-28, Everywhere to Everywhere (Sioux Falls, SD, USA). Missional training and outreach event.
April 29-30, Standards Introductory Workshop (Lenexa, KS, USA). Training in the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.
April 29 to May 2, Thrive Retreat (Elmina, Ghana). For North American women serving cross-culturally.
April 30 to May 2, International Wholistic Missions Conference (Lenexa, KS, USA). An annual event.
April 30 to June 5, Using Mobile Phones in Mission (online). Mentored course for field workers on leveraging outreach opportunities.
» View the complete calendar. Contact us to suggest additions. Want to know more about a specific event? Contact the event organizers.