Missions Catalyst

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World Missions News, Ideas, and Resources
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Finding Family for Frontier Peoples, Orphans, and More

In this edition:

  1. Understanding Frontier Unreached Peoples
  2. Haiti: 17 Missionaries Kidnapped by Powerful Gang
  3. Eritrea: 2 Elderly Pastors Imprisoned
  4. Globally, Girls Exposed to “Shadow Pandemic” of Sexual Abuse
  5. News Roundup: The Increase of Orphans Worldwide

Read or share the email edition or scroll down for individual articles.


Lately, I have been rethinking what the Church is and how God intends it to grow. I should have seen this long ago, but now I see the family motif as the best way to think about the Church. If the Church is a family, then might there be a better way to think about the unreached? As those with no church family?

This idea is not new; you may remember the Adopt-A-People movement. But what if we think of them as not adopted until they have a church family, or are “reached.” I doubt that missiologists will adopt (pun intended) new labels but my mind is made up. These unreached peoples or frontier peoples are simply orphaned peoples who need to learn of the Father that awaits their return.

My thinking started to change on this when I read Michael Heiser’s book, What Does God Want?

Whatever way you categorize the people of the earth, this interactive map at Joshua Project is amazing!  Read more about the Frontier Peoples model below.



Understanding Frontier Unreached Peoples

Source: Joshua Project, 2021

Frontier people groups (FPGs) are unreached people groups with 0.1% or fewer Christians of any kind, and no evidence of a self-sustaining gospel movement. There are about 4,993 frontier people groups with a total population of 1,977,748,000. One-fourth of the world lives in FPGs and has almost no chance of hearing about Jesus from someone in their people group. About half the population of all FPGs live in just 33 groups, each with a population of ten million or more.

In frontier people groups, Christianity is often viewed as a competing foreign political and religious force that threatens to pull apart families and communities. Evangelism and church planting that encourage or expect individuals to leave their families reinforce these fears. FPGs are best reached through gospel movements that bring God’s blessing to heal and strengthen families and communities.

Read more about frontier people groups and access a large collection of related resources to help you understand and communicate these concepts. Be sure to check out the interactive map.

Looking for ways to inspire others for work among the unreached? Find some good tips in How to Tell a Dangerous Story (an article Missions Catalyst reader Heather Pubols wrote for Missio Nexus).

Haiti: 17 Missionaries Kidnapped by Powerful Gang

Source: International Christian Concern, October 18, 2021

Authorities in Haiti continue to search for a group of 17 Christians, including five children, who were kidnapped on October 16, 2021, while on assignment with Christian Aid Ministries.

The group of missionaries was returning home from building an orphanage and were abducted by the 400 Mawozo Gang in Ganthier, a community east of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The gang controls the area and is well-known for extortion, abductions, and carjackings.

The Guardian writes that “one of the abducted Americans managed to send a message on WhatsApp calling for help as the kidnapping took place. ‘Please pray for us!! We are being held hostage, they kidnapped our driver. Pray pray pray. We don’t know where they are taking us.”

Read the full story.

More recent reports add that the missionaries were being held in a safe house right outside the suburb by the gang, which has demanded US$17 million for their release.

Some updates with prayer points appear on the Christian Aid Ministries website.

Eritrea: Two Elderly Pastors Imprisoned

Source: The Christian Post, September 11, 2021

Two elderly pastors are being held in Eritrea’s maximum-security interrogation center as one of the world’s most repressive and closed countries continues to persecute Christians.

“Pastor Girmay Araya, 75, and Pastor Samuel Okbamichael, 74, were taken from their homes in the middle of the night and brought to an unknown location,” the news agency Church in Chains reported, according to the US-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern [though it later emerged that they were taken to the maximum-security Wengel Mermera Central Criminal Investigation interrogation center].

When arrested, Eritrea’s persecuted Christians often disappear without a trace, leaving their loved ones with no information on their whereabouts or safety. Prison conditions are some of the harshest in the world, with inmates kept in shipping containers and believers often tortured in an attempt to get them to renounce their faith.

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki is a member of the Eritrean Orthodox Church in Asmara—belonging to the largest among the only three Christian denominations allowed to function in the country. Afewerki [also] has a reputation of being an alcoholic and a ruthless autocrat. Afewerki’s policy of restrictions is more about his fear that religion will mobilize people as a political force than religion itself.

Read the full story. Note: Evidently these arrests happened in late July but the men have yet to be released.

Church in Chains details other recent arrests in the country.

Girls Exposed to “Shadow Pandemic” of Sexual Abuse

Source: ASSIST News Service, October 11, 2021

COVID-19 has triggered a “shadow pandemic” of sexual abuse, violence, and exploitation against girls, a shocking new report reveals on International Day of the Girl Child, October 11.

More than ever, girls face multiple threats to their safety, including sexual predators online, sex trafficking, and forced child marriage, says the report Young Victims Remain Hidden in the Pandemic’s Shadow by mission organization GFA World (also known as Gospel for Asia). International Day of the Girl Child is an annual awareness event.

In more than 130 countries—including the US—it’s legal for girls to marry under the age of 18. In North Carolina and Alaska, a girl can marry at 14 if she’s pregnant. In North Carolina, a 57-year-old man applied to marry a 17-year-old girl, the report says.

Worldwide, COVID-19 is accelerating a “global crisis for girls,” with surging joblessness and poverty putting pressure on struggling parents to marry off their daughters in their mid-teens or younger, the report says.

Globally, national lockdowns have disrupted schooling for millions of girls and left them exposed to exploitation and a greater risk of getting pregnant.

Read the full story.

News Roundup: The Increase of Orphans, Worldwide

Sources: Various

“COVID-19 and its many ripple effects have done great harm to families worldwide. This tragedy brings both an immense challenge and an immense opportunity. The local church in every nation has both the calling and the community capable of making a world of difference—restoring broken families, strengthening struggling families, and welcoming children into new families whenever needed.” – Jedd Medefind, Christian Alliance for Orphans

Several ministries we know are offering ways to learn more or respond.

  • The Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) has a great blog and both conducts and curates research. CAFO invites us to participate in the 20th annual, international Orphan and Stand Sunday on November 7. Is this something you or your church would want to be part of?
  • Crisis Care Training International is offering their course Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children online starting soon (October 24 to December 17). They also offer the downloadable curriculum materials.
  • The Chalmers Center is offering a three-week online course called Helping Without Hurting in International Orphan Care (October 25 to November 9). Worth checking out.

Practical Mobilization: FOMOOMO and Other Maladies I Suffer From

By Shane Bennett

Are you healthy? I sure hope so. It can be a challenge these days not to be sick with COVID, heartsick, or sick to your stomach! Yay for me, I don’t have any of those right now. But in the process of reflecting, I’ve discovered another ailment that’s bringing me down, even though it feels like it’s doing the opposite.

Malady #1

I suffer from “Everybody Is Stupid But Me” syndrome. Have you seen this? In others, of course? It’s the deep, abiding sense that the way you see the world is how the world is, and therefore, anyone who doesn’t see it as you see it is stupid.

Now in some quarters, the word “stupid” has fallen out of favor. I tend to agree. Telling someone they’re stupid usually doesn’t help them become any less stupid. I suppose everyone else but me could be dumb, misguided, out of touch, hoodwinked, gullible, or any number of other descriptors. “Stupid” does however seem to capture the feeling that emanates from my dark heart.

And I’m not happy about it. Well, I am happy with the irony that writing about this malady, pointing it out to my reading friends, is the surest sign that I’ve got it bad! But I wish I didn’t. And I wish it weren’t so prevalent around me.

This idea began to coalesce when one of my kiddos got in the habit of loudly and plaintively declaring, “That doesn’t make sense!” when she didn’t understand something. I encouraged her to trade up for “I don’t understand,” a statement far more humble and a good bit less accusing.

And I gave her permission to point out to me when I say things that could easily be replaced with the words, “Everyone is stupid but me.” I give you that permission as well.

Mission-y types like us can fall prey to this when we advocate for our God-given passions by implying (or outright saying!) everything else is “not smart.” I experienced this in a presentation on reaching out to international students some time ago and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m afraid I’ve also done it before and am trying hard to avoid it as I mobilize heartily toward the 400+ unengaged Muslim peoples. (Again, please call me on it when you see it! Thank you.)

Malady #2

You’ve heard of FOMO, fear of missing out, and maybe have discerned it in your own life. FOMOOMO (“foh moo moh”) is a subset of that: fear of missing out on ministry opportunities! I’m guessing this is rarer than FOMO and Everyone Is Stupid But Me, but I’ll tell you what, sometimes I feel such an acute case of this that I’m almost paralyzed.

It has manifested most recently with the arrival of tens of thousands of Afghans in the US. Here are some of the thoughts that have skittered through my mind:

  • A friend is working in an army base helping Afghans prepare for life in the US. Intermittently, he’s dropping quotes on them in their heart language because he has a PhD in Pashto poetry! Why didn’t I ever learn Dari?! (For the record, I can almost say “yummy” in Dari and a hello/goodbye word that sounds a little like “coo duh hah fez.”)
  • How many Christians and how many churches are adding Afghan refugees to their list of malaise-inducing issues these days? I bet we could help some of them do something cool!
  • How should I be leveraging this situation to help people in my church grow in our love for people different from ourselves?
  • Have too many of us already stepped forward to eagerly offer more help than is needed? Mike Urton, a new friend, told me 900 churches have offered to help with the 100 Afghans expected to arrive in his area. Am I too late, or worse, unneeded?

If I let FOMOOMO rage, at some point I just bail, find a comfy chair, and continue reading my current Joe Pickett novel.

Assuming that’s not a good all-around answer, here’s some of what I’m telling myself. If any of these shoes fit, feel free to wear them with me:

  • God knows the plans he has for me and has indeed prepared good deeds in advance for me to walk in.
  • When others succeed in kingdom work, that’s a good thing. It does not make me any smaller. I can hardly believe I need to tell myself this, but there you are.
  • God’s got it in hand. He’s happy, but not obligated, to use me.
  • Read Wendell Berry, who says, “Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest.” Stay the course God has you on.
  • Admit your FOMOOMO to people who know you, who can tell you you’re full of yourself and still love you. Listen to what they say.
  • Experiment. Give it a shot. Iterate. None of us know all the answers. 

Are you feeling the FOMOOMO? I’d love to hear your story.

Subversive Mobilization: Win at Pastor Appreciation Month

What if the crazy missions people at church (us!) were also the ones who absolutely nailed Pastor Appreciation Month? We typically ask for a lot. What if we showed appreciation the best? How cool would that be? Very way cool!

First off, don’t get your pastor a Bible or a book on being a better pastor! And don’t regift a religious trinket, wall hanging, or mug! Of course, a shot glass with the Footprints poem on it would be an edgy exception to this rule. 

Matt at the Ten-Minute Bible Hour leaned hard on several of his pastor buds, finally convincing them to tell him what they’d really like for Pastor Appreciation Month. The video is more fun, but the list of his ideas below is quicker! 

  1. Fix something for them. Just take your “fixing things kit” to their house, ask what needs to be fixed, and knock it out for them! 
  2. Take total and permanent responsibility for something at church. Tell your pastor, “I’ll take this off your plate to free you for other things.”
  3. Let them try something new. Maybe your pastor has been wanting to try something and you’re a gatekeeper who thinks it’s a bad idea. Back off. Let them give it a go. 
  4. More books. Of their choosing! Consider a book budget, Amazon credit, or a Barnes and Noble card as appropriate. 
  5. Offer some deep-level affirmation. Pick something about them, maybe non-ministry related, and tell them how they’re doing a good job as a parent, a spouse, a friend. Write a letter, not a card.
  6. Heal a relationship, then go together to tell the pastor it’s better now. You’re going to think this is crazy but go to the 9:30 minute mark on Matt’s video. This would be an amazing gift!
  7. Knock out a financial debt. Find one they’re wresting with of a size you and your buds can handle, and just kill it! You’ll give them a tax-free raise, instant relief from minor or major despair, and maybe some sweet momentum on their debt snowball. 

If you’ve got a great idea for a Pastor Appreciation gift, I’d love to hear it.

Getting the Word Out: Scripture Access & Translation

  1. World: Starlink Satellite Internet Will Expedite Bible Translation
  2. World: YouVersion Partners for Greater Scripture Access by 2033
  3. Iran: Deaf Get Access to JESUS Film in Persian Sign Language
  4. Middle East: Eight Barriers to the Gospel
  5. Chad: The Multiplication Process at Work
  6. India: Healing Leads to Religious Conversion Scandal

Read or share the email edition or scroll down for individual stories.

World: Starlink Satellite Internet Will Expedite Bible Translation

Source: Wycliffe Bible Translators, September 10, 2021

One of the most important things needed to complete Bible translation projects is something many people take for granted: internet access.

As more and more people around the world translate the Bible for their own communities, a strong and reliable internet connection provides training and consulting opportunities to keep the work moving forward.

Learn how satellite internet technology like Starlink is helping deliver Scripture to people faster than ever before.

Watch the two-minute video (also on the Wycliffe website).

See also the Seed Company video, History of Bible Translation, which does an impressive job at summarizing 2,300 years of history in less than seven minutes.

World: YouVersion Partners for Greater Scripture Access by 2033

Source: The Christian Post, September 9, 2021

The popular mobile Bible app YouVersion has partnered with an alliance of 10 leading Bible translation organizations to help reach the goal of making the gospel available to 95% of the world’s population by 2033.

The collaboration plan, which some initially deemed impossible in this lifetime, will also aim to see the New Testament available in 99.96% of the languages available.

Ideas for the illumiNations partnership have been brewing since 2010 at an organized launch gathering. The association was created as 3,732 languages of the world’s over 7,000 languages have little or no translated Scripture.

“The Bible transforms lives, and we want to give back and bring awareness,” YouVersion Founder Bobby Gruenewald told The Christian Post. “It’s important that people know that God speaks their languages too.”

Read the full story.

See also Adopting a Collaboration Mindset (Catalyst Services).

Iran: Deaf Get Access to JESUS Film in Persian Sign Language

Source: Mission Network News, September 23, 2021

Jesus Film Project recently released a new translation of the “JESUS” film. But it’s not a spoken translation. It’s in Persian Sign Language!

Persian, also known as Farsi, is the nation of Iran’s official language. And there are over 400,000 Deaf in Iran. The “JESUS” film has been available in Farsi for a while. But now, Iranian Deaf communities also have access to the movie and its powerful representation of the gospel.

Jesus Film Project was connected with a woman in Dallas, Texas who helped with the Persian Sign Language in the film. Now the next step is to get the word out!

But that can be easier said than done, especially in a closed country like Iran.

A friend of Jesus Film Project is getting micro SD cards into Iran with the “JESUS” film in Persian Sign Language. And it is also available on Jesus Film Project’s website.

[A spokesperson named] Brian says, “We’re connecting with other ministries who do Deaf ministry, and so we try to network with them,…letting people know this is out there.”

The Persian Sign Language translation is part of Jesus Film Project’s initiative, Mission 865. The ministry hopes to complete 865 translations of the “JESUS” film in minority languages by 2025.

The full story includes prayer points.

More good news from Iran: an imprisoned convert who had gone missing has been found  (Middle East Concern).

Middle East: Eight Barriers to the Gospel

Source: Arab World Media, September 28, 2021

We are acutely aware of the many barriers Muslims face on their journey to faith. The parable Jesus told of the sower and the seed (Mark 4) resonates deeply with where we are in our ministry in the Middle East. Some places are as resistant as hardened pathways. Others are unreceptive, like rocky ground, while others are choked with thorns. But the seed of God’s Word is falling into good soil and yielding a harvest as many are choosing to follow Jesus.

Download a prayer guide about eight barriers to the gospel in the Middle East. Consider joining AWM members, friends, and supporters who will be praying through this guide on October 8.

Chad: The Multiplication Process at Work

Source: Partners International, September 1, 2021

In the lowlands of Chad, the Lord is moving among the unreached Bua people. The Bua are a nomadic group that follows a blend of Islam and animism.

One of our local leaders, Abdu, served this people group for the past few years, sharing the gospel with them. During that time, he discipled new believers and planted three house churches. But a few months ago, Abdu had to flee the area because of intense persecution.

Mwamba was one of Abdu’s disciples. He participated in the church work and spent many hours learning about Jesus, asking questions about the Bible and helping Abdu serve the Bua people. But, after Abdu left, Mwamba moved to the city to do business.

One night in the city, he had a dream where the Lord told him, “Mwamba, Mwamba, get up and cross the river. Go back and feed my flocks.” When he woke up the next morning, he committed to go back and serve the three house churches he left behind.

God blessed Mwamba’s obedience. One month after moving back among the Bua, he planted seven house churches, baptized seven men and ten women, and saw the Lord move in mighty ways in the community.

Read the full story.

India: Healing Leads to Religious Conversion Scandal

Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, September 14, 2021

In July this year, Gaya District in the north Indian state of Bihar found itself at the center of a religious conversion scandal after it was reported that hundreds of Mahadalits had left Hinduism and converted to Christianity. Indian mainstream media reported the story as a case of exploitation of superstitious villagers. “Reports claim the rampant conversions are being carried out under the pretext of curing maladies.” But, reading further, one can only conclude that the Spirit of God is moving in that place.

The story begins with Kewla Devi, a Mahadalit village woman whose chronically ill son was not responding to medical treatment. When someone urged Kewla to seek the help of Christians in adjoining Wajidpur village, Kewla—with nothing to lose—did. The Christians prayed and her son recovered.

So remarkable was this miraculous healing that, not only did Kewla and her whole family become followers of Jesus but so too did around 135 Mahadalit families in Belwadih village. The new Christians—who no longer use vermilion to mark their foreheads, nor pray to Hindu gods or goddesses—all insist they converted freely of their own will, without any inducement.

Read the full story. It includes links to Indian news sources as well as prayer points.

Special Edition: A Roundup of Resources on Afghanistan

The Blue Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif. Photo by Steve Evans/Flikr.

Greetings, friends!

Our next regular edition of Missions Catalyst is not due out until October 6, but a few things came up that might interest you. All of them connect to the situation in Afghanistan.

1. Hear Bob Blincoe speak from the heart.

On a recent edition of The Mission Matters podcast, Bob Blincoe of Frontiers joins Ted Esler and Matthew Ellison to talk about what’s happening and what might be next in Afghanistan. One big question: Should we stop going there, or is now the time to call forth a new generation willing to move toward danger and not away from it for the sake of the gospel’s advance?

Listen to (or watch) the episode, Afghanistan: What’s Happening and What’s Next? (28 minutes).

2. Think again about playing it safe.

Similarly, on the All Things podcast, Jen Oshman asks, have those of us in the American Church have given ourselves over to the idols of safety and security? Have we justified our wealth, health, and comfort, abandoning our call to heart things for the glory of God and the joy of all people?

Listen to the episode, Missions and Ministry and Our Idols of Safety and Security (22 minutes) and read The American Staying in Afghanistan (The Gospel Coalition).

3. Reflect and pray with One Way Ministries.

You might also be interested in a recent segment reflecting on the crisis from the Brand New Day podcast. This one could be easily be included in a worship service or prayer gathering.

Listen to the episode, Afghanistan: A Living Parable (6 minutes).

4. Consider Shane’s tips on welcoming refugees.

We haven’t seen anything like this since the end of the Vietnam War. While government agencies work around the clock and refugee care organizations rapidly retool, many American Christians may be asking “What in the world?!” and “How can we help?”

Read Shane Bennett’s article for Denison Forum, 95,000 Afghan refugees may come to the US: How will Christians help?


PS: Did you catch last week’s events calendar in our Resource Reviews? It includes a long list of things to do in October, some free and online.

An Unexpected Journey | Tea with the Global Church

  1. Podcast: Follow One Maverick’s Unexpected Journey
  2. Article: Drinking Tea with Leaders of the Global Church
  3. Website: A Directory of Missionaries Raising Support
  4. Article: Is The World Still a Waffle?
  5. Mission Events: Things to Do or View in October

Read or share the email edition or scroll down for individual articles.

Podcast: Follow One Maverick’s Unexpected Journey

Source: Pioneers-USA

The Maverick Podcast explores the unexpected journeys of spiritual seekers as they buck cultural norms and religious expectations to follow Jesus. The first season follows the story of Bishara, a young Muslim man from Central Africa who had everything going for him until a chance encounter dramatically changed the course of his life.

From strange dreams and guns that misfire to imprisonments and miraculous healings, Bishara’s story may sound too wild to be true.

To get to the bottom of it all, host Sarah Lewis talks to those close to him—and experts around the world—to find out what would make a man like Bishara risk it all in pursuit of truth.

Listen to the podcast. Just two of the eight short episodes have been released so far, but they come out once a week. Disclaimer: I helped create this. But I think it’s great and would love to see the word get out! Can you help by sharing it with people you think would like it?

Check out several new mission-related podcasts from other sources:

  • Doing Theology. Thinking Mission, with Jackson Wu and others from Mission ONE, launched in August. Each episode is about an hour long and digs deep into critical issues.
  • On September 28, One Way Ministries will launch a new podcast called One80 featuring testimonies and stories of transformation. You can listen to the trailer now. It sounds quite inspiring.

Article: Drinking Tea with Leaders of the Global Church

Source: Lausanne Global Analysis, September 2021

When Leaders Drink Tea Together: A Critique of Western Christian Leadership in Light of Global Trends, by Mary Ho.

“We are living in a global era where what the global church needs are global leaders with a global mindset, not just Western leadership styles and writings exported to the rest of the world,” says Mary. Her article includes good data and analysis of leadership styles along with practical tips.

Explore this issue of Lausanne Global Analysis. It also includes articles on Christianity in the UK, reaching Israelis in Berlin, and growing churches in hostile contexts.

Website: A Directory of Missionaries Raising Support

Source: Ergatas

Most missionaries raise the bulk of their support from people they know—or get to know along the way. But what if you’ve tapped out your networks, or what if, as a donor, you would love to support individuals in a certain kind of ministry but don’t know any?

Ergatas is basically a cross-agency directory of missionaries raising support. It can be searched using detailed filters so users can find missionaries who share their vision. The service is free to use and takes no part of any donations.

So far, it’s pretty small, and only includes about 60 workers sent out from the US, Canada, Australia, and UK (although they hope to expand). More than 100 organizations have been approved to participate.

Learn more about Ergatas. Their about page answers many questions.

In the past we’ve written about several services that connect would-be missionaries with opportunities. Mission Next is a good place to start.

Do you need to put more effort into raising support? Check out a bunch of helpful worksheets from Scott Morton or listen to the replay of a recent webinar on how to prepare for year-end giving campaigns from Tailored Fundraising.