Source: Jeannie Marie
One of the best ways to experience a place or people group is to take a short trip and go there. But that’s not so easy to do during a pandemic. You can go along with Jeannie Marie and a few friends on a (pre-pandemic) survey trip to see for yourself what she describes as one of the most unseen—and beautiful—places on earth: the southern districts of Bangladesh.
» Gather your family or small group and watch the series of 10 videos.
» While we’re in South Asia, jot yourself a note that 15 Days of Prayer for the Hindu World is coming up, November 8-22. You can order prayer booklets from William Carey Publishing (and other places).
The Red Book, by Gillian Newham. Bespoke Christian Publishing, 2020. 342 pages.
A nineteenth-century missionary spends 20 summers among Mongolian herdsmen, seeing no fruit but leaving behind a precious Mongolian Bible with a holy man who was his friend.
Nearly a century later, we meet a family in the same area, still keeping their herds and living much as their ancestors did, but in a changing Mongolia. The novel focuses on several members of the family questioning if there is something more than their traditions and way of life and seeking truth and purpose.
Though the world has lots of Christian fiction, novels about missions are few and far between and sometimes don’t ring true. I was impressed with this one. It provides a loving look at Mongolian thinking, culture, experience, and spirituality and will be welcome to those who know or want to know more about Mongolia, though the unfamiliar Mongolian names and phrases might lose a reader not willing to persevere.
The author and her husband live and serve in Mongolia.
In this short video, Steve Schirmer of Silk Road Catalyst explains and responds to data about the status of global evangelization compiled by Joshua Project—including the estimate, published in 2007, that 86% of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists do not personally know someone who follows Christ. Is that still true?
Source: Center for Missionary Mobilization and Retention, Trinity Bible College and Graduate School
Could you or someone you know use additional training as a mission advocate and missionary mobilizer? This school in North Dakota now offers a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies with an optional track in missions mobilization.
To help with missionary retention, Trinity Bible College and Graduate School is offering free continuing education for missionaries. Any current missionary can take (audit) one of Trinity’s graduate school classes free of charge. These classes take place at various times all over the world.
This fall, they’re also offering one of their courses in an intensive format free of charge to anyone who would like to try it out. Join via Zoom.
Course: Trends and Issues in Mobilization
Dates: November 17-19, 2020
Description: Students will critically engage and analyze issues that both contribute to the decline of missionaries sent from the US and influence one’s decision to serve as a long-term missionary. Special consideration will be given to the factors that often influence the missionary call, as well as current barriers that prohibit an aspiring missionary from getting to the field. Other topics presented in this course such as short-term mission trips and missionary influence may adjust as mobilization trends and issues develop.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
October 1, MultiplyUs. First in what is meant to be a series of online events featuring early examples of disciple-making movements in the USA. Sponsored by 24:14 in partnership with MoreDisciples.com.
October 5 to February 14, 2020, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Next class starts November 2.
October 6, Accountability with a Small Staff and a Small Budget. Webinar from Missio Nexus, with Capin Crouse. This is part of a finance series which also includes a webinar about PPP loan forgiveness on October 27.
October 7, The Future of Missions. Webinar from Missio Nexus in partnership with Sixteen:Fifteen; guest presentation from Barna.
October 8, How Digital Media Is Accelerating Disciple Making Among the Unreached. Webinar from Missio Nexus.
October 8, Discerning Your Calling. Webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.
October 9-10, Evangelical Missiological Society National Conference. Includes tracks on arts, history, orality, short-term mission, and more. Cost goes up after September 30.
October 9-11, Ask2020. Weekend of prayer for the Middle East coordinated by Arab World Ministries. Download materials to help you and your church pray for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon.
October 13, Circumventing the Mission Agency; Navigating the System. Webinar from the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission. A November 10 webinar will focus on preparing youth for missions.
October 20-21, Support Raising Bootcamp, provided by Support Raising Solutions. A similar virtual event is planned for November 11-13.
October 20-28, Standards Introductory Workshop. Ten-hour interactive seminar on making mission trips better from Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission. A similar event will be held November 16-18.
October 22 to November 19, Strategic Storytelling for Movements (new online course). For field workers and content creators to find and create media stories for ministry, from Missions Media U.
October 24, Northwest Regional Refugee Roundtable. Provided by the Refugee Highway Partnership.
October 29, Transformation of the Church. Webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.
» View complete calendar. Submissions and corrections welcome. We will continue to make updates about canceled and postponed events.
Most evangelical Christian women in Eritrea have to pray together in secret. Photo: World Watch Monitor. Related story below.
- INDIA: Challenges and Advances in North India
- IRAN: Church Believed to Have Nearly 1 Million Members
- BANGLADESH: A Different View of Rohingya Refugees
- ERITREA: Evangelical Christians Freed on Bail
- ZAMBIA: Prepared in Season and out of Season
Source: Beyond, September 23, 2020
About one year ago, some house church leaders in North India had their homes burned to the ground. They are facing difficulties again.
A few months after their homes were burned, all the families moved back and rebuilt their huts. Last week, a local Hindu extremist group joined forces with the police, damaged their rebuilt homes, and arrested 14 people. Two are still in jail. The police are demanding extortion to release them.
However, in the midst of very real persecution, the church continues to advance. Sanjay, a leader in the movement, recently read through old diary entries from the first movement meetings in 2012. He had written, “God, give us North India.”
We praise the Lord for the big vision of these committed disciples. Today, the work has spread to nine states and over 200 caste groups. Thousands and thousands of families have become strong disciples of Jesus, working to make more disciples of Jesus.
Pray for our brothers and sisters to remain attached to the Vine, and for their joy to increase even in the midst of their persecution. Pray our Father will bring forth much fruit that the devil cannot snatch away.
» See also Christians in Northern India Forced to Stop Worship, Pastor Says (Morning Star News) and this photo essay: Ganges River Flows with History and Prophecy for India (Associated Press).
» Colleagues in mobilization at Pioneers are hosting a virtual prayer time for the Hindu world on September 23. You’re welcome to join in.
Source: Christian Headlines, September 4, 2020
If you open up your doors to a house church in Iran, then your home could be frequently raided and monitored. And if you do happen to go to prison, the prison situation there is appalling.
Despite these issues, Christianity Today reports the Iranian church has grown to around 1 million members. This is according to a survey by GAMAAN, a research group based out of the Netherlands. The survey asked 50,000 Iranians what their belief was. 90% of those surveyed live in Iran.
According to the survey, 1.5% of Iranians are Christians. Extrapolating that out yields a minimum of 750,000 Iranian Christians, but there are also 117,500 Armenian and Assyrian Christians living in the country, putting the actual baseline closer to 867,500 Christians at minimum.
However, Christianity Today reports the survey itself states there are “without doubt in the order of magnitude of several hundreds of thousands and growing beyond a million” Christians in the country.
Source: Mission Network News, September 14, 2020
In a newly released video, two ex-soldiers from Myanmar confess to the mass killing and rape of Rohingya Muslims. It’s the first time anyone from Myanmar’s military acknowledged a campaign of violence targeting this people group, CNN reports.
Since 2012, armed attacks have forced between 800,000 and one million Rohingya refugees into neighboring Bangladesh. Vincent Michael of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) says they’re helping local pastors reach these refugees for Christ.
“A big part of working with Bangladeshis is to encourage them to be visionary, to go into places where we can’t go, and to take those opportunities instead of being scared of them,” Michael says.
Poverty presents a challenge to this mission. More people live below the global poverty line in Bangladesh than anywhere else in South Asia. Instead of seeing Rohingya refugees as people who need Christ and compassion, some Bangladeshis view them as competition for scarce resources. FMI offered Bangladeshi pastors a different outlook during a recent training session.
“We made a slideshow of pictures that painted the Rohingya in a more ‘accurate’ light. We showed pictures of Rohingya children crying because they were starving [and] of the bread lines. We showed some of the UN efforts to help in the area,” Michael describes.
“I started seeing a change [during] the conference. When we did that vision casting session, and we showed some of the needs that are in those camps, a large majority of the pastors would say, ‘we’d like to see if we could help; or, at the very least, bring these prayer concerns back to our people.’”
Source: World Watch Monitor, September 10, 2020
The Eritrean government has released on bail more than 20 prisoners who’d been in detention for years because of their faith, the BBC reports.
A regional spokesperson for charity Open Doors International said that, for some time, it had heard discussion that prisoners might be freed on bail due to the coronavirus pandemic (as has happened in several other countries) but could not independently confirm the reports: “If true, this could be quite significant.”
In May 2019, a monitoring group for the UN said “thousands” of Christians are facing detention as “religious freedom continue[s] to be denied in Eritrea” and questioned why the UN was not monitoring the situation more closely.
In June 2019, Reuters reported that more than 500,000 refugees worldwide have left Eritrea, up from 486,200 a year earlier.
» Read full story includes details on additional incidents related to religious liberty and persecution.
» See also 27 Christians Released from Prison in Eritrea (Christian Today), which includes an estimate that the number of incarcerated Christians is a little over 300, including 39 children. The BBC report cites a US State Department estimate that there are 1,200 to 3,000 prisoners of faith in Eritrea. Not sure why the numbers vary so widely.
» The recent peace deal in neighboring Sudan included an agreement by the transitional government to remove Islam as the state religion and abolish the death penalty for leaving Islam (Open Doors).
Source: Operation Mobilization, September 8, 2020
“When the virus spread to Africa, I had the choice to leave for Canada, but I am thankful that I chose to remain in Zambia,” explained Larissa [a Canadian serving with OM]. “God has used my team in a really special way to continue reaching out to ladies in Zambia and other locations across Africa.”
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, almost everything in Zambia, where Larissa works to empower and equip women, came to standstill as lockdowns restricted movement and wearing a face mask became mandatory while interacting with people. Instead of Larissa and her team being restricted, however, they found an opportunity to express love to others by sewing affordable face masks. “Our vision didn’t change—we still wanted to empower women—but our focus for this time had to change,” commented Larissa.
Sewing as many as 7,000 masks within a few weeks, the effort provided not only a reprieve for people who faced the stark choice of whether to spend their meager earnings on expensive masks or face a jail term for not wearing one but also an income stream for the women training as tailors who are often the breadwinners of their family.
“As often in developing countries, the life of a woman is not easy,” observed Larissa. “Women are often uneducated and illiterate and therefore struggle to generate any form of income.
“Our vision is to see women empowered, freed from physical and spiritual oppression and become vibrant followers of Jesus.”
» Want more stories about showing effective compassion in challenging times? Read about the ministries in the US (mostly) that won the annual Hope Awards from World Magazine.
Motives for Getting Fit By Shane Bennett
Hey, Missions Catalyst tribe, can you do something for me? If you’re sitting down as you read this, lean forward a little bit. Now, reach down and grab your belly. Are you happy with what’s in your hand? Are you thinking like me, “I wish I were holding onto a little less right now!”? (If you didn’t even do the assignment because you knew the shame and self-loathing that would result, I’m sorry. My purpose is not to drag up that pain.)
I was recently listening to an episode of a podcast called Dad Tired that asked the question, “Does God care if I exercise or not?” As host Jerrad Lopes laid out his response, I thought, “Wow, this matters for mission mobilizers!”
Of course, it matters to most Christians. All of us should steward well all the resources God has given us, including our bodies. The human body (even yours!) is a work of art capable of amazing work. And at least so far, it’s the only tool we have with which to interact with other humans and the rest of God’s good creation. Taking care of it is smart.Fit for the Mission
But here are four reasons I think this is a particularly important deal for you and me:
- Almost every day at 10:02am I pray Luke 10:2, “Father, send laborers into your plentiful harvest.” God says we need more laborers. You can’t go if you’re dead! And as hard as cross-cultural work is, it’s harder if you’re out of shape and not healthy.
- I want us to set a good example. I want people to say no to my global invitation because it’s not for them (or they think it’s not for them), not because I apparently lack the discipline to leave even a single Twinkie in the box!
- It’s possible I’m writing this now because I’m in week seven of a nine-week Couch to 5K program and am in better shape than I’ve been in, maybe ever (that’s not saying much!). I’m also mostly eating veg, per the example and request of my smart-as-a-whip wife.
- I have a hunch that many of us wrestle with some level of depression and a greater number of us feel the weight of a great task, a cause that can feel infinite, and the pain of people living in tough situations and Jesus-less despair.
Add to that cocktail the reality that we’re not an easy bunch to open up to. We think if we’re sharing this Jesus message with others, we should probably have already figured out life for ourselves.
While I’d never be so trite as to say, “exercise your blues away,” solid data indicates exercise can fight depression in some cases.
I suspect you agree with those reasons, but the trick is to find the right balance and appropriate action. Lopes shares some wise caution regarding getting our bodies into shape. He urges us to watch out for:
- Idolatry. Remembering from Sunday School that idolatry is valuing anything in your life ahead of God, you may think, “I’m not likely to put this body above God!” The pain of running also makes me think I’m never going to make an idol of it. But people do, and you and I are people. It’s possible. Lopes tells us to be careful to keep priorities straight. He got it from Paul who told us a long time ago, “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
- Proper motivation. What motivates you to stay in shape or might inspire you to get there? I remember telling a nutrition coach a few years ago that my main reason for wanting to buy and consume her crazy-expensive protein shakes was so I wouldn’t look fat when I was teaching Perspectives classes! Yep, subpar motivation and one which, as you’d guess, didn’t last!
These days I want to be pushed forward by a desire to take care of God’s gift of my body. I want to be able to run with the kiddos and qualify for decent life-insurance rates. I don’t want to end up in the hospital or disqualified from an amazing opportunity because of stupid lifestyle choices.
- Misplaced security. Lopes reminds us that our hope and life are in God. We can’t diet or lift ourselves to immortality. No amount of mileage will shift our ultimate security from God’s hands to ours. Even though I want to work hard to extend its expiration date, the timing of my temporary shift out of this body is more up to God than me!
Two visions compel me to run these days. Actually three.
Since my inner 14-year-old is still always showing off for girls, I run to impress my wife.
But I also run away from this scene in the movie WALL*E: On the life pod orbiting a used up and garbage-filled Earth, the fat and jowly residents spend their lives riding around in lounge chairs, screens in front of their faces, big sugary sodas in cup holders at their side.
I really don’t want to be like that!
The other vision is my hero George Verwer, the wiry, mouthy octogenarian who launched Operation Mobilization as well as the missionary careers of a gazillion people. He was already in full stride 35 years ago when he first impacted my life and he continues to generate helpful content today.
That’s what I want to be like!How About You?
From the bewilderingly complex work of your cells to the cool color of your hair, God has giving you a great body. Are you taking care of it? Would you like to do better?
If you would, please join me and your Mission Catalyst compadres by setting a health goal for September. Here’s mine: By the time the next Practical Mobilization article hits your email box, I’m going to weigh less than 200 pounds. I don’t have a terribly long way to go, but I’ve hit a plateau and need to log more mileage and consume less food.
What would you like to see happen with you and your body? Jot it down on the Practical Mob “Your Body Is a Temple” Wall of Wonder. Of course, you’re welcome to just take a peek at what others are doing. You might get inspired!
May God give us grace, courage, and grit to properly but relentlessly care for the amazing bodies he’s given us. And as a result, may he give us more days to mobilize others and more months and years to invest in his great kingdom purposes.
Source: Mission Network News, August 20, 2020
Lebanon is still recovering from the massive explosion in the port of Beirut that shattered windows around the city and killed hundreds [on August 4].
Pierre Houssney of Horizons International says many Lebanese are ashamed of the way their government has failed to respond in any way to the explosion. “But we could not be prouder of the Church, because churches almost instantly hit the ground.”
These churches, who have already been helping Syrian refugees in the country for years, immediately sent out teams to help clean up and distribute medical supplies and humanitarian aid. Houssney says, “The volunteers are touching the lives of these people, serving these people, and helping them clean up the broken glass. They pray with people and give out meals and sandwiches and medical aid. It’s incredibly impactful and glorifying to Jesus.”
» Read full story and another from MNN, Lebanon Turns 100 in the Midst of Crisis, Catastrophe.
» You might also want to watch a beautiful tribute to the city of Beirut recorded by Assyrian Christian singer Ilona Danho (h/t Joel News) or read about the country’s spike in COVID-19 cases since the explosion (International Rescue Committee).
Source: Wycliffe Bible Translators UK, August 28, 2020
A new milestone has been reached as the Bible has been translated into its 700th language. The milestone is indicative of the acceleration that is happening in the work of Bible translation—to the extent that it is impossible to state which translation was actually the 700th, as there were several launches of physical Bibles, as well as several being made available online and via apps, all at about the same time.
James Poole, Executive Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, says, “It’s good to take a step back and realize what this 700th Bible means: 5.7 billion people who speak 700 languages now have the Bible in the language that speaks to them best. That is a remarkable figure and continues to grow. However, there are still about 1.5 billion people—that’s roughly 1 in 5—who do not have the Bible in their language. That’s an injustice that Bible translation teams worldwide continue to work to put right.”
» Full story describes some of the most recently completed translations.
Source: Assemblies of God World Mission, August 26, 2020
Across Slovakia’s countryside, castles have dominated the landscape for a thousand years, boasting of power, wealth, and luxury. At their feet, sleepy villages rest in lush valleys. Small chapels marked by crosses and images of saints dot the roads, reminders of long-ago days when medieval travelers stopped to rest and pray.
Beyond the mountains, a complex tale has been playing out for decades. It is the story of the Roma people—the “gypsies.” Deeply marginalized by larger society, the Roma have suffered greatly. Yet for 20 years, an unprecedented revival has been growing among Slovakia’s Roma. Church leaders and members alike agree: Only God could bring this about.
Roma who are touched by the revival in Slovakia are now moving across Europe seeking better opportunities for their families. They carry Jesus with them, spreading revival fires wherever they go.
“To see revival is hard work,” [says a Roma church leader]. “But we are seeing its fruit—and the blessings of God—and in that there is great joy. We do not wait for the broken to come to us. We go find them. Revival must first be in us. Its fire must be in our hearts. Pray this for us: We need more servants to come help us. Many villages are crying out to us for help in terrible situations, and we do not have enough people to send. They call and we do not have enough people to answer.”
» Full story describes a pattern of life transformation among Roma who come to Christ.
» Want to learn more? A few years ago, Mission Frontiers magazine had a whole issue focused on the Roma.
Source: Open Doors, August 28, 2020
The “ghost disease.” That’s what North Koreans call COVID-19. “People can be sick without knowing it,” [said] Brother Simon, Open Doors’ coordinator for ministry among North Koreans. “They are usually malnourished already. Then suddenly, they die quickly. Some even just fall dead on the ground. It’s an invisible killer.”
“The central government and local authorities are very fearful of the spread of coronavirus. The only thing they can do is impose lockdowns. Many marketplaces are closed down, even though the population is completely dependent on the black markets. But even if [the markets were] open, there’s little food you can buy. And prices have quadrupled. It will cost you multiple months’ salary to buy a kilo of rice. The border with China is closed, which prevents most trade and smuggling activities.”
2020 has been a very difficult year for North Koreans, according to secret Christians who have shared with Brother Simon’s team and contacts. “It’s not just the coronavirus, the lockdowns, the little food, and the unaffordable prices that [affect] the people,” Brother Simon says. “They have also seen heavy rainfall, mudslides, and now a heat wave. North Koreans are really suffering this year.”
» Full story includes context and prayer requests.
Source: International Christian Concern, September 1, 2020
On Monday, August 31, the transitional government of Sudan and five of the country’s main rebel groups have agreed and initialed a peace agreement. The signing of this peace agreement means the end of a 17-year-long war that has raged in southern Sudan.
The signing of this agreement and the support of South Sudan [may signal] an end to one of the bloodiest and longest wars in recent African history. The next step forward is for increasing freedoms to reach all citizens in Sudan, including its minority Christian population.
» Read full story and pray for lasting peace. Other news sources suggest reaction to this agreement is mixed.