Missions Catalyst

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World Missions News, Ideas, and Resources
Updated: 1 hour 23 min ago

FREE EBOOK: Global Transmission Global Mission

Source: Operation World

Global Transmission Global Mission: The Impact and Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic, by Jason Mandryk. Operation World, 2020. 53 pages.

Earlier this year Operation World began sharing updates about the COVID-19 crisis in different countries around the world, eventually launching a new website with that focus. As a result, editor Jason Mandryk was asked to write a short opinion/editorial article about how the worldwide Church—and world mission in particular—was being affected by the unfolding global pandemic.

“Like many of us, I have been reading voraciously of late, and my understanding of zoonotic diseases, epidemiology, public health policy, quantitative easing, supply chain management, etc. has graduated from generally oblivious to dangerously sophomoric,” he admits. “However, OW has the privilege of being connected to Christian leaders and international networks in the spheres of mission, research, prayer, and beyond, involving people in and from virtually every country on Earth.”

Mandryk was unable to provide an article under the word limit and before the deadline—there was just too much to say. Hence this publication: a 53-page book with 80 points related to the global church, mission mobilization, missionary sending, mission field realities, media opportunities, and more. It’s a bit rough in spots, and of course the situation continues to develop. Still, very thoughtful and well-informed and includes supporting links.

» Download and read the whole thing. No registration required.

» See also OW’s new COVID-19 prayer site, which follows the Operation World prayer calendar but adds urgent, COVID-related prayer points from each country. You can find them on social media, too.

RESOURCES: Related to Mission Trips

Sources: Various

What’s going on in the short-term mission movement now that most trips are canceled? Missio Nexus did a survey of short-term mission sending agencies and published a report. Today (May 27) Missio Nexus will host an online discussion about this research and about COVID-19 and short-term missions in general. Sorry for the last-minute mention, but you can probably find the recording later.

Yesterday (May 26) The Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission did a webinar encouraging us all to ask why we do mission trips and if we can accomplish these purposes without people traveling. You can watch it on their Facebook page or on Vimeo, or find the recording on their website later. It’s called “You Don’t Have to Go to Give.” (No, the bottom line wasn’t “just send us your money.”)

The Upstream Collective is giving away a seven-page PDF download exploring how and why you might want to take your people on a virtual short-term trip. No cost, but you’ll have to give them your contact info.

See also this roundup of articles (including one of ours) about coronavirus and canceled travel from Rachel Pieh Jones.

TRAINING: Ignite Church Planting Movements

Source: All Nations

Do you know the mission agency All Nations in Kansas City? They focus on making disciples and training leaders to ignite church-planting movements among neglected peoples. And their excellent training is open to the whole body of Christ.

Early last year, All Nations started to offer free Ignite Online Trainings about once a month. These 90-minute sessions cover topics ranging from storytelling and loving Buddhists to sending and abiding in Christ. They also have a whole series on the DNA of movements.

They also one-day, three-day, and three-week training sessions that go deeper on these topics. Maybe you know someone who could use their three-day Church Multiplication Training. In the past these have all happened in Kansas City, but now some are also online. Popular sessions include a Storytelling Workshop and People of Peace: How to Reach Your Muslim Neighbors.

» Learn about upcoming Ignite training sessions or browse the archives of recorded sessions. Other offerings are under the tab “Train and Go.”

» Other mission agencies that have generously opened up training opportunities along these lines include Beyond (we’ve mentioned their “Nugget Trainings” before) and Team Expansion (now expanding their online learning offerings). If you are aware of others, let us know!

DEBRIEFING: 2020 Mini-Debriefing Guide

Source: Returning Well

I know, 2020 isn’t done with us yet. But maybe you or someone you love—like a missionary making an unwanted, extended visit to their home country—could use some help processing all that’s come our way. The folks from Returning Well have put out a mini-debriefing guide.

» Learn more or download the guide. You might also want to look at the book Returning Well: Your Guide to Returning “Home” After Serving Cross-Culturally.

EVENTS: Happening (Mostly Online) in June

Source: Missions Catalyst Missions Events Calendar

Event organizers canceled or postponed most face-to-face event on our June events calendar, but online events go on and have multiplied. I likely missed some.

Classes and Longer Training Events

June 1 to August 3, Kairos Course Online.
June 1 to August 9, Perspectives Intensive Course Online.
June 1 to October 4, Perspectives Online Course.
June 2 to August 25, Perspectives Virtual Course (out of Fulton, MD)
June 16-18, Sahara Challenge (Crescent Project; ministry to Muslims)
June 16-19, Support Raising Virtual Bootcamp (Support Raising Solutions)
June 16-24, Standards Introductory Workshop (Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission; making mission trips better)

Online Debriefing

June 22-26, ABIDE. Re-entry for global workers (TRAIN International).

Webinars and Short Online Events

June 3, Church Missions Leaders Peer2Peer Virtual Gathering. Topic: missionary care in light of COVID-19 (Missio Nexus, with Jeff Jackson).
June 9, Leveraging Youth Mission Trips for Long-Term Spiritual Growth (Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission).
June 10, CEO Thought Leader Briefing. Topic: Self-care for CEOs (Missio Nexus, with Roy King).

Conferences Now Online

June 4, Mobilization Ideation Atlanta (online). An annual regional event.
June 24-26, The National African-American Mission Conference. Annual event moved online and free this year.

Face-to-Face Events

We believe the following events are not canceled or moved online.

June 7-13, Perspectives Intensive (Schooleys Mountain, NJ, USA).
June 28 to July 24, Equipping for Cross-Cultural Life and Ministry (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training. This class is full, but there are openings for classes like this in the fall. Also check out prefield training options from MTI and TRAIN.

Other Events

June 6-7, World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk.
June 20, World Refugee Day.

» View complete calendar. Submissions and corrections welcome. We will continue to make updates about canceled and postponed events.

SAUDI ARABIA: A Tiny Church Grows

The small Church in Saudi Arabia needs mature believers to translate Scripture and to lead churches.

Source: Mission Network News, May 7, 2020

The small Church in Saudi Arabia needs mature and committed believers to translate Scripture and to lead churches. “It’s almost like the early Church in the book of Acts,” says Abd Al Fadi about Christianity among certain language groups in Saudi Arabia. He works with Hijazi Arabic in Western Saudi Arabia, Najdi Arabic in central Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi Gulf dialect in the East.

These groups have few Christians. Finding mature and committed believers to translate [Scripture] is difficult. Abd Al Fadi says, “Sometimes they’re busy with a job or concerned about being caught by their family or the government.”

Even if the translators complete their work, that doesn’t mean it can be distributed easily. “It’s one thing to produce the product. It’s another to deliver it to the right church or group that can benefit from it.”

Abd Al Fadi asks Christians in the West to pray that Christians in Saudi Arabia will join together in house churches and that the right materials will get to the right people.

Most of all, pray that like the early Church in Acts, the Church in Saudi Arabia would grow and multiply. Abd Al Fadi says he hopes within the next decade “We will hear about many Saudi believers who are out in the open, doing media or doing ministry and partnering with others as well.”

» Full story includes links to more in a series about unreached people groups. Consider tuning in to join them (and others) online for International Day for the Unreached on May 31.

» Also read Five Reasons Why Google Can’t Translate the Bible (Wycliffe USA).

MIDDLE EAST: COVID-19 Lockdown Ignites Spiritual Interest

Source: SAT-7, via Christian Newswire, April 21, 2020

Amid strict coronavirus lockdowns, millions of people across the Middle East and North Africa clamoring for a spiritual and practical lifeline are finding help right in their own homes through television.

In the region where Christianity began but is now a minority faith, Christian satellite television broadcaster SAT-7 has seen viewer numbers surge and social media interest skyrocket since the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.

“There’s an explosion of spiritual hunger across the Middle East and North Africa right now as people stuck at home seek real hope and real answers,” said Dr. Rex Rogers, president of SAT-7 USA.

“Millions of people in countries like Iran, Iraq, and Turkey are clamoring to see and hear in their own language what it’s like to be a follower of Jesus in a time of crisis,” Rogers said.

In coronavirus hotspot Turkey, where 99 percent of the population is non-Christian, more viewers have contacted the SAT-7 TÜRK channel daily in the past few weeks than any day in the previous five years since broadcasts began.

In Iran, another virus hotspot, viewers’ calls and messages to the live, Farsi-language Signal show—beamed into millions of homes across the nation—jumped to seven times the usual number last month, as Iranians rattled by the pandemic turned to the show’s hosts for reassurance and practical advice.

» Read full story.

» See also Tyndale: Bible Sales up 44-60% During COVID Crisis (God Reports).

IRAN: Christian Sentenced to Flogging and Prison

Source: International Christian Concern, April 22, 2020

On April 21, 2020, Christian human rights activist Mary Fatima Mohammadi received a suspended prison sentence of three months by the Iranian government. The sentence included a directive ordering Mary to receive a flogging of ten lashes.

Mary has come under significant pressure from the Iranian authorities over the years because of her Christian human rights activism. In the latest incident, she was arrested because she was present in the area of a protest where Iranians had rallied regarding the government’s downing of Ukrainian Airline Flight 752, [which is] highly sensitive in Iran.

After her arrest, Mary disappeared for nearly a month before she was discovered in Qarchak Women’s Prison, a jail with a reputation for various types of gender abuse. While there, Mary reported that she was beaten and suffered other kinds of mistreatment. She was eventually released on bail and charged with “disrupting public order by participating in an illegal rally.”

Her court hearing was initially delayed because of COVID-19 but took place on April 17. Iran’s Human Rights Activist News Agency (HANA) reports that during the hearing, the judge repeatedly questioned Mary about her conversion to Christianity.

» Full story includes responses from Mary and commentary about the prison system in Iran.

» See also Iranian Christians Sent to Jail, Unable to Afford Bail (Article 18).

LAOS: Christians Flee Destroyed Homes

Source: Open Doors, April 25, 2020

[Three] months ago, in northern Laos, three Christian families woke to the thundering voice of the chief in the remote village where they lived. As he stood outside their homes, the leader of the community they had been part of their whole lives announced that he and the entire population of the village were there to destroy their homes.

That day, these families lost their homes and their community—because they left the tribe’s religion to follow Jesus. The families fled together into a nearby rice field where they cobbled together makeshift shelters. Days later, the villagers found where they were and destroyed their “homes” once again.

A couple of days ago, we received an update from the local pastor of the families’ church. After relocating yet again into another village, these families have been told by that village chief they must move once more because they might “anger the spirits of the village.”

» Full story includes a picture, reports how Christians have stepped in to help this family by providing housing and other needs, and describes religious persecution in Laos.

» From another part of Asia, read Pastor in Nepal Re-Arrested on New Series of Charges to Keep Him in Jail, Sources Say (Morning Star News).

SIERRA LEONE: Growing in Trust, Finding the Path of Truth

Source: International Mission Board, May 19, 2020

A former missionary reflects on crisis of belief during civil war in Sierra Leone:

Each day we were in the war of Sierra Leone, God would address the trust issue with me. I wanted to trust God, but I was so upset! I had such doubts. Everything was out of my control. I was grasping for control by praying—or more like telling God how things should be or how I wanted them to be. God used a refugee as the hinge pin that not only swung me back but jolted me into real focus.

A few months after the rage of my trust issues and the war, I was asked to go to the refugee camp in another country where a young man from Sierra Leone came after he escaped a rebel attack on his village. He had seen his mother, father, and brother killed before he ran.

As Alsuine ran, he kept saying, “Allah, I think I am on the wrong path of life. I need to find the right path.”

Christian workers gave him a blanket and rice and told him he could come any day to hear a lesson from God’s Word. [At one lesson] the center director read him John 14:6 in English, saying, “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; no one can reach God unless he walks Jesus’ path.”

This truth hit him to the core of his being (literally translated in Krio, “it goes to the bone”). With enthusiasm, he proclaimed that the true and living God had answered what he was seeking in life on his path of escape from the rebels.

As if that wasn’t enough, he turned to me with the sincerest heart, eyes, and words: “If it wasn’t for the war in Sierra Leone, I would still be walking the wrong path.”

It was like a knife that pierced my heart—the hinge pin that jolted me back, as the Father said once again, “Do you trust me?” This time, with every fiber of my being I said, “Yes!” It was humbling. It was hard. It was a turning point of growth toward fully trusting God.

» See full story with pictures.

Sharpening the Saw: Quizzes and Courses

I stumbled on a quiz about Ramadan last week. That first quiz led to a second, which led to me signing up for a super-short online course about Islam fielded by Pew Research. The course consists of four brief daily emails followed by a quiz. I’m 25% of the way through!

But it’s got me wondering. Why was I eager to take the quiz? Then why did I sign up for the course? Did I feel like Muslims are my jam and I would probably nail the quiz? Sure did. Was I embarrassed by my 75% score? Yep. Does the currently fettered state of life afford a little more margin to sharpen the saw? Does for me!

In another attempt to learn and grow, yesterday I spent some (virtual) time with one of my favorite people. Doug Lucas has just released a brief set of videos for his full-time global workers with Team Expansion. In the generosity that characterizes him, Doug is allowing us to peek over his shoulder as he challenges his people to frame the current situation by “Getting Back to the Basics,” “Taking Initiative,” “Communicating Actively,” and “Adapting to the Current Context While Staying True to Our Calling.”

These short talks encouraged and challenged me. I took away both calming assurance as well as actionable challenges. I commend them to you.

What about you? Are you sharpening your saw these days? Kevin Kelly says, “A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier.” Are you learning and growing, turning crazy, home-bound days into higher capacity for what lies ahead?

Maybe you’re barely holding it together. Chasing kids, scrambling for food, and just trying to hold on to your job or keep you head above water. Much grace to you. And thanks for reading this in the midst of that! Please receive what God has for you, rather than taking these musings as more “things you have to do.”

If you do have bandwidth to think, though, let me ask you this. Are there things you’d like to learn about mobilization, Muslims, missions in general? Would you find a mobilization or global outreach quiz compelling? Would you consider taking a short email-based course about a relevant missions topic? How long would be optimal? Would video lessons make it more fun or just longer to slog through?

» I’d love to read your thoughts, wishes and references to existing items like this. Please comment on our website, find us on Facebook or Twitter, or just respond to this email.

Swipe This Idea or Take a Seat at the Virtual Table

The good people at Truth Collective are doing the coolest thing next week: A virtual tea party!

“We need to honor the directives of our authorities, but there’s absolutely no reason we can’t enjoy one another, learn from Jesus, and experience tea-novelties from around the world, all from the comfort of our own slippers! At this tea party we welcome back Noushi, our esteemed TC Fellow from a Muslim background, to discuss the difference between perfect righteousness and relative righteousness and why it could be a pivotal difference between you and your Muslim friend.”

» Sign up for this one. There were still spaces available at the time of writing. Then pray and dream about hosting your own!

The Biggest, Most Important Challenge in 16 Years of Practical Mobilization

Are there 25 of us who would commit to finding, or starting, the team that would go to one of the largest unengaged Muslim groups?

We want to see the Great Commission competed, right? Even though we may disagree about what that looks like. We want to see God’s Kingdom come, right? Again, with diverse understanding of its nature.

There must be steps and stages on the way to God’s vision of consummation. Different benchmarks, waypoints, and goals. What if the start of the problem were defined as simply as this? “We must get one reproduction-oriented team of people on the ground among each unengaged people group.”

Those teams might come from anywhere. And there would be much more to do after they arrived. But could we make that a starting point? Some of us living among all.

Friends of mine who’ve invested many years in global, Great Commission work among Muslims have developed a researched and tested list of over 500 Muslim people groups they call unengaged. That first team has yet to arrive. In many cases, it’s hard to even find believers who are thinking about moving in with them.

If I’m lucky 1500 people will read this email. Are there 25 of us who would commit to finding, or starting, the team that would go to one of the largest unengaged Muslim groups? Just two dozen of us who would receive grace from God to open the flow of his grace to one of the peoples least impacted by the gospel?

I’ve compiled a subset of my friends’ list. Take a quick look at it and a long gaze at your Father. If he directs, put your name and email beside one of the peoples on the list. Together, we might be able to start the very beginning of what will ultimately be the fullness of God’s Kingdom among some precious people.

Plans to complete the Great Commission are nothing new. Some say there have been over 2600 since Jesus gave the challenge. I’m not presumptuous enough to think this idea is the solution to everything. But I’m feeling very committed to doing what I can do to find “engagers” for these 25 groups.

Here’s the massively over-simplified plan:

  1. Choose a people: Prayerfully go over the list and put your name and email by one of the peoples. If there’s already a name there, that’s good news. Join them.
  2. Become a champion: Learn, advocate, visit (virtually or IRL when permitted), become a stake holder.
  3. Find a cheerleader (I volunteer!): Mentoring, encouragement and connecting will be essential.
  4. Charge ahead. This assumes you’re operating out of the grace of God and not simply your own ambition. But God does want this done, right?

In the words of NASA’s Gene Kranz, flight director for the ill-fated Apollo 13, “let’s work the problem.

Thank you for considering this challenge. I’m convinced God wants some of us from somewhere living as ambassadors among every people for whom that’s not currently reality. How wonderful if he were to allow you and me to join him in making that happen.

» Please watch this video where I start the cheerleader process, then consult the list.

PAKISTAN: Rooftop Sunrise Church Service

A ministry in Pakistan has begun preaching the gospel and praising God from the rooftops while their city is on lockdown (BosNews Life).

Source: BosNews Life, April 26, 2020

An evangelical church and mission group has launched rooftop services in Pakistan after authorities banned regular church meetings amid a national lockdown to halt the coronavirus pandemic.

The Global Vision Ministries (GVM) blasted the gospel of Christ through loudspeakers from a rooftop in Faisalabad, the country’s third-largest city, explained its pastor Suneel A. John.

The last three worship services featuring the pastor and a small group of musicians and staff included a sunrise service on Easter Sunday. John added it was “a miracle that police allowed our service on the resurrection day of Jesus Christ. We likely held the first sunrise service on a rooftop in Faisalabad’s history.”

GVM also distributed breakfast to over 650 families living in the area. Separately it has been distributing food packages lasting a month impacting hundreds of families, the pastor stressed.

[This] comes while a growing number of people face starvation as lockdown measures affected impoverished daily wage earners. “Especially Christians suffer. I know of a Christian father who wanted to hang himself because he could no longer provide for his hungry wife and two daughters. We learned about their situation and could help the family.”

Separately, GVM has rescued 100 Christian families, all slaves, in brickyards.

» Full story includes a five-minute video from the sunrise service as well as background on Pastor John, who was delivered from a gang lifestyle after a suicide attempt.

» See also a story about missionaries in Madrid singing a gospel song for their neighbors on Easter Sunday (International Mission Board).

KENYA: How Can You Socially Distance in a Slum?

Source: Compassion International, April 23, 2020

Guadencia carefully steps across her brothers’ outstretched legs, weaving her way between family members until she reaches the doorway. Thrusting aside the floral curtain, she pokes her head outside. Fresh air cools her face, tainted by acrid smoke and the eye-watering smell of open drains. Still, it is sweet relief to escape from the stifling tin room her family of seven call home.

Her neighbors are just yards away, separated by only a few sheets of rusting corrugated iron. Around her, thousands of shacks are packed together so tightly they are accessible only by foot. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a steady stream of people walks past.

To curb the growing number of cases of the highly contagious virus, the Kenyan government has instructed citizens to maintain social distance and practice good hygiene. But in Kibera, a slum in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi, physical distancing is a luxury few can afford.

Half of Kibera’s residents are unemployed. The rest work mostly as casual laborers, earning just enough each day to survive. If they don’t go out to work, their family may not eat that day. The pandemic has already left 10-year-old Guadencia’s family on the verge of homelessness.

“It has been a difficult two weeks,” says her mother Dorcas, who works as a cleaner in a Nairobi factory. Her sweet face, usually quick to smile, creases with worry. “We have not been paid this month since the boss had traveled to India and has been unable to come back.”

» Full story includes similar stories and reports from slums in Nicaragua and the Philippines. Also from Compassion’s blog, read Compassion Fatigue in the Time of Coronavirus.

» See also Are Slums More Vulnerable to the COVID-19 Pandemic? Evidence from Mumbai (Brookings).

CHAD: Believers Reach Neighbors for Christ

Source: Missions Network News, April 21, 2020

A small cluster of about 22 denominations and organizations in Chad have been gathering and praying together for a number of years. They felt the Holy Spirit was laying on their heart that they needed to be the ones to reach these unreached people groups in their own country, David Reeves of unfoldingWord tells MNN.

Surrounded by unreached people groups, Chadian believers feel the Lord calling them to make his name known among their neighbors. However, Reeves explains, they don’t have the resources or training they need to fuel community outreach. That’s when global ministries, including unfoldingWord, came alongside to help.

First, unfoldingWord taught Chadian believers how to use their open-source material to translate 50 Bible stories into the language of a neighboring unreached community. “Our Open Bible Stories project is a set of 50 stories released in Creative Commons,” Reeves explains, “so they’re free to take and translate without having to have additional permissions from us. The stories cover the metanarrative from Genesis to Revelation.”

Chadian believers collaborated with JESUS Film and World Mission to create additional evangelistic materials and load them onto solar-powered devices. Once everything was finished, Chadian church planters and evangelists immediately put the resources to use. In a three-day outreach event, believers shared the gospel with over 8,300 people.

» Read full story.

» See also Chad Is Not an Easy Location (SIM USA).