In recent months, several missions-related podcasts have gone dormant, while others thrive and new ones launch. Follow links below to podcast websites or find them wherever you like to listen.Missionary Mobilization Podcast
(Center for Missionary Mobilization and Retention)
“The Missionary Mobilization Podcast is a resource for Christian leaders who want to increase the number of missionaries around the world. Our goal is to equip and encourage missions mobilizers and missions pastors for greater Kingdom impact.”
This podcast launched in 2019 and is going strong. Check out episode 34, “Missionaries in an Age of Global Christianity,” with Dr. Todd Johnson.Better Mission Trips
(Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission)
“This podcast highlights topics that every mission leader thinks about. These conversations with mission leaders are meant to spark thoughtful consideration and equip you to make your mission trips better.”
There are six episodes so far. The one I found most thought-provoking was episode three, “Doing Distribution Ministries Well.”Relentless Pursuit Podcast
“This podcast interviews [Pioneers] missionaries who wrestled through tough seasons in their pursuit of God’s glory among all nations. These raw and real stories will help you learn what it looks like to pursue the Lord in your life. Come grow and be stretched.”
Episode five just launched. The strongest might be the first, “What If God Doesn’t Use Me?” and the fourth, “What If I Suffer?”Six More Mission Podcasts
Crescent Project Radio, from Crescent Project: “A podcast about God’s miraculous movement in the Muslim world.”
Global Missions Podcast, from SEND International: “A show for Christ-followers who want to participate more effectively in God’s work both at home and to the ends of the earth.”
Mission Mobilization Chats, from Global Mission Mobilization Initiative: “A podcast of cutting-edge topics related to cross-cultural mission and mission mobilization empowering denominations, church networks, organizations, local ministries, and individual believers to engage with God’s heart for the world.”
Movements with Steve Addison, from MOVE: “Stories and insights from the field on multiplying disciples and churches. Everywhere.”
The Missions Podcast, from ABWE International: “The Missions Podcast exists to answer hard questions about theology, missions, and practice to help goers think and thinkers go.”
The 1040 Podcast, from The Go Fund: “We explore stories of ordinary people playing an extraordinary role in reaching the unreached.”
Got a favorite? Maybe another you love that’s not on the list? Let us know.
Source: Missio Nexus
Essentials for Fundraising and Development: A Collection of Best Practices, Ideas, and Strategies, edited by Michael R. VanHuis and Heather Pubols. Missio Nexus: 2021. 192 pages.
More than a dozen fundraising experts contributed to this volume to bring practical insights and help you and your organization get your ministry funded and flourishing.
Learn more or get the book (US$10 for ebook editions, US$24.95 for print). You can also download a sample that includes the table of contents, introduction, and first chapter. Note that Missio Nexus will be holding a series of webinars on fundraising and development in coming months, with the first scheduled for February 16.
Raising “personal” support? Consider the online course Fundraising Fundamentals and other resources (including free webinars and a blog) from Tailored Fundraising, or plan to attend a Support Raising Bootcamp (more info below).
Source: SEND International
…There’s not much more than this to the article, but don’t you love that they communicated it visually?
Are you up for 15 days of prayer for the Buddhist world, January 28 to February 11? Prayercast will send daily emails with videos to spur you on.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
February 1, Navigating Short-Term Trips in 2021 (online). Webinar from The Upstream Collective.
February 1 to June 6, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). New classes begin regularly.
February 7-19, Second-Language Acquisition Course (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.
February 11, Propagating: Gospel-Driven Discipleship (online). Part of The Greenhouse, a series of workshops for church mission leaders from Pioneers USA.
February 11, Your Best Kingdom Workers Are Hidden in Plain Sight (online). Webinar about engaging business people, provided by Missio Nexus.
February 11, Three Easy Ways to Drive Innovation (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
February 11, The Buddhist World (online). Regional update from Beyond.
February 16, Three Steps to Kickstart Your Fund Development Program (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus; first in a series of three.
February 17-19, Support Raising Bootcamp (online). Similar events held throughout the year in various locations by Support Raising Solutions.
February 17 to March 28, Seek God for the City (global). An annual prayer campaign coordinated by WayMakers.
February 18 to March 18, Foundations of Media to Movements (online). Training course from Mission Media U.
February 19-20, Short-Term Mission ConneXion (online). If you plan mission trips, lead them, are going on one, or even just considering going on a mission trip, this conference is for you.
February 22 to March 20, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Missionary Training International.
February 24-26, Crisis Management Seminar (Orlando, FL, USA). Provided by Crisis Consulting International.
February 25, Go to the Mosque: Connecting with the Lost (online). Nugget training from Beyond.
February 25, Move (online). Virtual missions conference provided by Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.
February 25, Innovating Theological Education: How BibleMesh Can Prepare your Staff for Ministry (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
View complete calendar. Corrections and submissions are welcome.
This edition of Missions Catalyst News Briefs features stories with global scope. May they inform your understanding, strengthen your communications, and stir your prayers. View the email edition or scroll down to read stories below.
Source: Center for the Study of Global Christianity, December 2020
Every year in the International Bulletin of Mission Research we present an annual snapshot of global Christianity, a one-page version of which can be downloaded for free. The table provides a statistical overview of the world’s 2.5 billion Christians and their activities.
» Get the table and see also an FAQ with quick facts about global Christianity. For example, did you know that by 2015, 68% of Christians (1.6 billion) and 84% of Evangelicals (270 million) were people of color?
Source: Wycliffe Global Alliance, December 2020
Recent years have seen a dramatic and steady increase in the number of Scripture translations available digitally via websites and smartphone apps. In October 2020 YouVersion reached a new milestone, with Scriptures now available in a total of 1,500 languages. Globally, digital Scriptures in a total of 1,968 languages became available on various sites and apps.
Faith Comes By Hearing has made similar progress, currently providing Scripture in about 1,500 languages. While their primary focus has been on audio recordings of Scriptures, in the last few years they have added videos, first in partnership with the JESUS film and now also with the Lumo partnership, through which they have committed to creating at least one gospel film in every recorded language.
We are quickly approaching 2,000 languages in which Scripture will be available digitally. This rises even higher if we include JESUS films in languages which do not (yet) have any other Scripture online.
» See also the annual numbers on global Bible translation efforts and scripture access (updated in October).
Source: Open Doors, January 13, 2021
For the 20th consecutive year, North Korea ranks as the No. 1 most dangerous country for Christians. For three generations, everything in this isolated land has focused on idolizing the ruling Kim family. Christians are seen as hostile elements in society that must be eradicated.
North Korean President Kim Jong-un is reported to have expanded the system of prison camps, in which an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are currently imprisoned.
Yet behind the news headlines, a massive underground church of an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 believers is growing in North Korea.
» Full story provides a glimpse of life in Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India. See the 2021 World Watch List Report for the 50 countries most difficult for Christians. Let’s pray for believers in these places, as well as praying for their countries and communities.
Source: Mobile Ministry Forum, January 7, 2021
Beyond being the year of COVID-19, we all know that 2020 was also a breakout year for TikTok video shorts and Zoom teleconferencing. After some research, we now know that this was as much the case in least-reached countries as nations where the gospel has spread.
We reviewed daily data on the top-ten free Android apps downloads for 32 less and least-reached countries, so we are sharing the top 20 apps they downloaded during 2020. We hope this data will help you plan media ministry initiatives because you can now see your audience’s interests and mobile and social media platforms/habits.
» The list of apps leads with TikTok, WhatsApp, Likee (a video platform), Zoom, and Instagram, but includes others you might find surprising. Take a look, especially if you’re considering a media outreach campaign.
Source: SAT-7, January 11, 2021
While 2020 was an extraordinarily hard year for many, it was also a year in which God was on the move in extraordinary ways. Soaring audience engagement (up to 30% overall growth) with SAT-7 channels showed that amid COVID-19, the hope of Christ shared through television touched more people than ever in the Middle East and North Africa.
The growth in engagement was especially marked for the channels that serve Arabic-speaking children and Turkish viewers, as well as SAT-7 ACADEMY education programs.
- Audience engagement for SAT-7 KIDS climbed by 90 percent.
- Contacts for the Turkish channel, SAT-7 TÜRK, rose 120 percent.
- Audience engagement for SAT-7 ACADEMY soared by 328 percent.
- Between January and September 2020, SAT-7 received 310,000 audience engagements in total, almost a third more than during the same period in 2019.
» Read full story. We’re hearing reports like this from other media ministries, too. Praise God.
» Also read Hymn Database Sees Spike as Christians Worship at Home in 2020 (Religion News Service, via Christian Headlines).
Source: Mission Network News, January 6, 2021
Seven years ago, Hindu leader Rajeshwar Singh made a controversial promise to rid India of its Muslim and Christian populations [by the end of 2021]. Party officials soon forced Singh out of the public eye, but videos of his [speech] resurfaced in 2019—the same year Prime Minister Narendra Modi gained a second term in office.
Attacks on Christians have risen annually since 2014 when Hindu nationalists first came to power under Prime Minister Modi and the BJP (see our coverage). As the countdown to December 31 begins, Christians brace for a challenging year.
“There is a group called the RSS, a Hindu nationalist group [that is] very militant. The RSS has been able to flex its muscle under the BJP government,” John Pudaite of Bibles For The World explains.
“They’ve stated on the national media that they intend to make India free of Christians and Muslims by December 31, 2021. They want to make India entirely Hindu.”
Even if this deadline is extended to 2024, as a national worker reports, a clear threat remains.
» Viral Fundamentals: Riding the Corona Waves in India says Hindu nationalism has strengthened during the pandemic (Religion Compass).
By Shane Bennett
John Wesley, a personal hero of mine, famously said, “I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear the glad tidings of salvation.”
I enjoy the contrast of Wesley’s generous sentiment to the apparent caution of the expert in the law whose question to Jesus prompted Luke’s account of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Having established that the greatest commandment was loving God, followed by loving neighbors, he pressed to see who all might be included in the “neighbor” designation.
The lawyer asked how to be a good Jew. Jesus told him to be like a good Samaritan! Show mercy to those who need mercy.
I love this story more every time I circle back around to it. It has power over millennia and lessons for us in these crazy days. If you have a moment, read it again, then consider these three observations and one question.1. Jesus nails the first response.
The lawyer opens the chess match with, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus could have pulled out a copy of the Four Spiritual Laws, shown him the Romans Road, or maybe drawn the Bridge Diagram in the dirt for the guy. Instead, he responds with, “What is written in the Law? “How do you read it?”
This is such a good challenge for us in these days of information whirlwind, fake news, and deeply held but biblically suspect ideology.
When we feel strongly on an issue, let’s ask ourselves, “What is written? How do you read it?” and then ask the same question, kindly and carefully, of fellow believers, concerning the issues of the day.
Let me be clear: I’m not accusing you of “biblically suspect ideology.” I’m confessing that some of my thinking might be unbiblical—and inviting us all to consider that it could be true of any of us.2. Jesus sticks the landing.
Jesus ends the brief episode with a question: “Who of the three was neighborly?” Then when the lawyer bravely stated the obvious and correct answer, Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” So simple, so brilliant. And so important for us today.
Knowing what Jesus says is valuable. Doing what he says, however, is the main payoff. Jesus wraps up the Sermon on the Mount with the “house on the rock, house on the sand” illustration. If you hear and do what God says, you survive calamity. I so long to be one who both hears and does what is right. I’ve racked up way too many points in the know column relative to the points in the do column.
After reading the Sermon on the Mount, I’m particularly challenged to go after the warm, godly characteristics of “peacemaker,” “salt,” and “light.” Want to join me? Perhaps show the way?3. A bad guy is the good guy.
Ah, to be a storyteller like Jesus. He knew his culture so well. He had the right measure of boldness, cheekiness, and sport. If he told the Good Samaritan story in your church come Sunday morning, who would be the good guy? A Mormon? A Muslim? An American? A transgendered, illegal alien? The deacon’s daughter who went to college, left the church, and got all liberal?
Jesus has a way of cutting to the chase, doesn’t he? Of raising a mirror to show us our moral prejudice and our grace parameters.
At the same time, by choosing a bad guy Samaritan to be the good guy in his story, Jesus is telling us this: I’m down for using you to do my kingdom work. If a Samaritan is fair game to show a Jewish lawyer how to act, then you’re not too dumb, too old or young, too short on the raw material, too privileged or underprivileged, too red, blue, rural, urban, or weird. Your checkered past doesn’t stop him. God delights to use you.
Last night I met a farmer from the middle of nowhere, Idaho, who retired, took his wife’s hand, and moved to the Middle East for several years to love Muslims. It may be a side note in the story, but don’t miss it: Kingdom work is open to pretty much anyone willing to take a detour, drop some coin, and get their donkey dirty.4. How do you love like a Samaritan?
Jesus told his tester, “Go and do likewise.” Be a good neighbor. Act the way the Samaritan did. God knows there are plenty of people right now who feel like the universe has conspired to beat the tar out of them, take their stuff, and leave them for dead.
Maybe you share that sentiment. You feel like you’re on a playground merry-go-round, barely keeping your grip as it spins. Then a big kid comes along and gives it another push. Maybe you feel like the US election and subsequent events have yanked the rug out from under you. Perhaps the pandemic, the school closures, or the economic stress has you hanging by a thread.
I’d be honored to come alongside you in prayer. I suspect I can relate to some though certainly not all of what you’re facing. Tell me how I can pray. If the Holy Spirit’s nudging you put the words of Jesus into action, to act like a good Samaritan, here are three things to consider.Look.
Odds are good you won’t see a robbed, beaten, left-for-dead dude on your way home from work today. But you may pass someone in the hallway at church who’s on the ropes. The person in front of you at the grocery may be only barely holding their stuff together. And if we dare to consider it, there are whole nations of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists reeling under the assault of the virus with no one even whispering, “Jesus is for you.”
There are times when I don’t want to look around. Like a priest or Levite, I want to lower my head, avert my gaze, slide on over to the “enjoy my life” side of the road and let the rest of the world be. But Jesus calls me, us, to look.
Will you consider with me, to whom is he asking you to be a neighbor this week?Listen.
Jesus could have directly responded to the lawyer’s question. He certainly knew the answer! Maybe his response was more than Semitic pedagogy. Maybe Jesus wanted to let the guy talk. I know that today we show care for people when doing that. David Augsberger says, “Being heard is so close to being loved that, for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”
It feels empowering to yell. Cathartic to confront. It may feel imperative to get your take on the table. But it’s safer to listen. And there are people around you who need to be heard today. Simply holding your tongue and taking the time to nod your head and say, “Go on…” could mean so much.
To whom might the Holy Spirit be prompting you to listen today, this week?Love.
Finally, we act as a good neighbor by loving people who need it, those whom God puts alongside our path.
Let’s be honest: Loving costs. It costs time and money and involves taking a risk. If we choose to love, we might have to trade in being right, at least temporarily.
In a deep way, I want the Church to be known these days for its love. If that’s going to happen, it probably needs to happen first in me and you. Jesus’s life and death show us the way. May God empower, encourage, and release us to “Go and do likewise.”
Who might God be asking you to love in a fresh way this week?
Grace to you as you do so.
In a year dominated by COVID-19, some other big stories got less coverage. On November 18, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared itself free from Ebola for the first time in nearly three years. See the story below (Tearfund).
Source: Tearfund, December 2020
At Tearfund, we have seen our partners around the world step up and respond to crisis after crisis during 2020. But in a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, Tearfund’s News Editor, Andrew Horton, rounds up some important events that didn’t get much time in the news.
From locusts, floods, and hurricanes to positive stories of change, here are seven stories you may have missed in 2020.
» Read the article with links and pictures.
» OMF’s Andy Smith calls 2020 the Year of the Eraser. If you canceled much this last year, you can relate. See also Seven Heartfelt Prayers by Pastors for Their Churches in 2021 (Thom Rainer, Church Answers).
Source: Jubilee Campaign, December 31, 2020
On December 29, it was revealed that lawyers and government officials of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have approved The Freedom of Religion Bill of 2020 which has raised many concerns among the nation’s religious minorities. This new legislation, according to Reuters, “would make pressuring a woman to convert to their husband’s religion a crime punishable with imprisonment.”
Just a month prior, the Indian state Uttar Pradesh passed a similar law, the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance. In both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, officials claim that the legislation is aimed at “curb[ing] religious conversions using misrepresentation, allurement, force, threat, undue influence, coercion, marriage or any other ‘fraudulent means.’”
However, though there is no specific religion mentioned in the bill, critics believe it may indiscriminately target the nation’s Muslim and Christian communities. For some time, radical Hindu nationalists have accused—without credible evidence—India’s Muslims of engaging in a “Love Jihad” campaign by which they coerce Hindu women to convert to Islam with the promise of marriage. Similarly, politicians in Madhya Pradesh have repeatedly criticized and condemned Christian missionaries, who they claim make promises of education and financial support to Hindu women in exchange for their conversion to Christianity.
» Morning Star News reports the arrest of a Korean Christian and several other suspects under the new anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh.
Source: OMF International, January 4, 2021
I had a quiet and peaceful upbringing in Cambodia, but the Khmer Rouge changed everything. When I was 21 years old, my city came under attack. My family was rushed out of Phnom Penh into the countryside. The journey was difficult. My mother died on the side of the road, but we had to continue on.
Eventually, separated from my father and sisters, I was forced into a labor camp. I was beaten, tortured, and starved. On multiple occasions, I thought I would be executed.
In the midst of my suffering, God touched my heart. I was harvesting rice and glanced up at a mango tree. I began wondering who created the first crop. Though I claimed to be Buddhist like my mother, I began believing there must be a Creator God.
When the war ended, I escaped and was reunited with my family. We stayed in refugee camps in Thailand, where I met some missionaries. One woman shared the Bible with me and told me about Jesus. When I heard how Jesus had forgiven those who had mistreated him, I was deeply moved. I accepted him as my Savior right away.
In 1992, while living in Canada, I got connected to a ministry that shared the gospel with Cambodians through radio. I harbored bitterness toward Cambodia and never wanted to return. But God made it clear he had plans for me there.
I’ve been living in Cambodia and serving in gospel radio ministry for 20 years. The Lord has given me strength not only to forgive my persecutors but also to love my country. After all, God has done for me, I consider it a privilege to spend my life serving him here.
» See IMB Commemorates the Service of Single Female Missionaries (Southern Baptist Convention).
Source: Mission Network News, December 30, 2020
On Christmas morning in Lahore, Pakistan, a group of 50-60 Muslim men attacked a Christian church during their Christmas service. They aimed to kidnap and assault the women in attendance.
The security guards and other men at the church fought back with bare hands against the staff-wielding intruders, giving the women time to escape. Many Christian men suffered blunt trauma injuries and fractures in the fight.
Things got worse when the police arrived. Authorities helped the defeated Muslims escape, and blamed Christians for fighting back. Nehemiah from FMI (Forgotten Missionaries International) says, “They scolded and threatened the Christian community, the Christian church, saying it’s illegal to have their own security. [This] is truly an unjustified and illegal action by the police, because it was announced by the government of Pakistan two years ago, that every church must have its own security. They must have their own CCTV cameras, barbed wires, and medical equipment.”
To make things worse, the police have now arrested security guards who beat back the mob, saying they broke the law.
» Read the full story and one with a different ending, Pakistan Officials Stop Christmas Day Terrorist Attack.
» See also Boko Haram Kills Villagers in Christmas Eve Attack (BBC).
Source: God Reports, November 28, 2020
Nasser, who was born and raised on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, longed to die for Allah by waging jihad and thus improving his chances of making it into Paradise.
“God had other plans for me,” he says on a Your Living Manna video.
In the summer of 1990, Nasser plotted to run away and join [the] jihad, but Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. At the time, he was actually in the United States with his mother visiting relatives and the ensuing world chaos prevented him from leaving.
“What was I going to do? I was surrounded by infidels. You either make [war] against them or you try to bring them into Islam another way,” he says. “I thought Allah brought me here to evangelize them.”
As he learned about American culture, he eventually perceived that born-again Christians were different than the rest of Americans (who he wrongly assumed to all be Christians), and he began to target them because he figured it would be easy for them to switch since they already lived clean lives.
One of those loving and clean-living Christians was a woman with whom Nasser fell in love.
“That was my undoing,” he admits.
Happy New Year! ’Tis the season for articles about the best, worst, or most significant happenings of the last year. We may include some in next week’s news briefs. But here are a few to start with.
- Best Mission Books of 2020, from our friend Ellen at Catalyst Services. Some of these we reviewed in Missions Catalyst.
- Prayercast’s 2020 year in review video; see below. God still reigns, worth remembering as we reflect on the ups and downs of 2020.
- Check out YearCompass, a free booklet of questions and exercises to help you reflect on your year and plan for your next one.
- As you consider 2021, take a look at our calendar for mission conferences, courses, and other events. Many are now free online, which has not previously been the case. Seize the day!