After almost 20 years of writing Practical Mobilization columns, I’m going to take a six-month hiatus. Our intrepid publisher, Marti Wade, will make sure you get a monthly dose of great content. She’s the best.
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If you’ve been waiting for the right time to take the 12-lesson Encountering the World of Islam course, this is it. To celebrate their 30th anniversary, our friends at EWI are offering their online course for just $99 (regularly $249). This only applies to the summer online class, but that’s just around the corner: May 2 to July 31. Join us in celebrating EWI and inviting others to participate!
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In this edition:
- Myanmar: Military Destroys 47 Churches in Predominantly Christian States
- Niger: God at Work Among Fulani and Tuareg Tribes
- Ukraine: A Kidnapped Missionary Is in Grave Danger
- El Salvador: How a Missionary Used Bitcoin to Transform a Town
- Russia: Witches Gather to Cast Spells in Putin’s Enemies
Want to let you know our website has been down for a week after the web hosting bill went astray. We’re working on getting the site, with posts going back a few decades, back online. Meanwhile, you can find recent articles through the Mailchimp archives or send us a note.
Here are a few things you might find useful but that didn’t quite fit in the collection of news stories below.
- Read How Easter Is Celebrated in Countries Around the World (Wycliffe Bible Translators). This is adapted from and includes a link to some fun lessons and activities you can use with kids.
- See How to Explain Easter to My Muslim Friends (Jeannie Marie).
- Learn about a US denomination doing seminars to help explain Ramadan to Christians serving Afghan refugees (Religion News).
- View Afghanistan Six Months on from the Taliban Takeover—Photo Essay, with haunting glimpses of life there now (The Guardian).
Source: The Christian Post, April 4, 2022
Myanmar’s military has destroyed at least 47 churches and more than a dozen affiliated buildings in its attacks in the predominantly Christian states of Chin and Kayah since it staged a coup last February, human rights groups have said.
About 35 churches and 15 buildings associated with churches were destroyed in Chin State and about 12 churches were destroyed in Kayah State (formerly known as Karenni) between February 2021 and January 2022, The Irrawaddy reported, citing the Chin Human Rights Organization and the Karenni Human Rights Group.
Christians are a majority in Chin State, which borders India, and make up a substantial part of the population of Kayah State, which borders Thailand. Christians in conflict zones, including these two states, are ethnic minorities who live in the various conflict zones across the country’s borders.
Formerly known as Burma, the Southeast Asian country is home to the world’s longest civil war, which began in 1948.
See also Over 100 Religious Buildings Destroyed by Burmese Military (International Christian Concern).
Source: Mission Network News, March 15, 2022
In Niger, God is working among the Fulani and Tuareg tribes, predominantly Muslim groups.
Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs USA says, “There are converts, people who are following Christ, out of those tribes that are then literally going village to village. They are sharing the gospel and finding great fertile soil for the seeds of the gospel that are being planted.”
Nettleton says we need to remember this when we hear about attacks against Christians by these groups. “Don’t fail to remember that God is at work among the Fulani. I’ve seen some amazing pictures of Fulani in their full tribal regalia, with their headcovers, being baptized into the kingdom of God.”
These groups have often been used as pawns by outside political forces who want to promote radical Islam. Other attacks stem from the differing needs of farmers and herdsmen or different tribal disputes.
Praise God for the work he is doing among the Fulani and the Tuareg. Nettleton says, “The book of Revelation promises people of every tribe and tongue and nation will worship Jesus. We’re seeing that happen in our day, so we celebrate the work of God.”
Editor’s Note: What a joy to read news like this! Years ago I picked up a bunch of books at the Dollar Store for 25 cents each, including one that helped my Sunday school class learn about the Taureg and pray for them. Check out One Night by Cristina Kessler.
Source: God Reports, March 25, 2022
On February 25, Russian tanks rolled into her Ukrainian village, Orlovsky, in the Donetsk region, abducting Valentina Naumovich, 61, a trusted missionary affiliated with Far Reaching Ministries and CBN’s Orphan’s Promise.
Eyewitnesses saw the soldiers throw a black bag over her head as they abducted her. “A woman who knew Valentina reportedly betrayed her to the Russian troops when they arrived in town, telling them that Valentina was helping the Ukrainians,” according to CBN.
Valentina had been helping with the distribution of food to people hiding in bomb shelters, as well as Ukrainian soldiers.
“She was the keeper of the village, the main philanthropist, who knew about the pain and need of every resident, and every adult, respectively, knew her… She gave love and light. She distributed food and bread to the hungry, and preached the gospel to the desperate,” according to a spokesperson affiliated with Far Reaching Ministries.
See the full story with photos. Evidently, Valentina was able to make a phone call two weeks after she was captured but we have not found a more recent update. Another report said she had been serving as an aid worker in this region for eight years. Please pray.
See also Franklin Graham Writes to Putin, Zelenskyy to Ask for a Ceasefire During Holy Week (Religion News Service).
Source: The Christian Post, April 4, 2022
A few years ago, a missionary decided to do a small and seemingly inconsequential experiment in El Zonte, a beach town in El Salvador. The plan was to get the community to adopt Bitcoin so that they wouldn’t have to rely so much on the cash economy. What he started would change the country in a remarkably short amount of time.
Until recently, El Salvador was known for two things: murder and fleeing immigrants. Known to many as the murder capital of the world, the endemic gang violence meant that it became the most dangerous country in the world that was not at war.
Like many developing countries, El Salvador was dependent on foreign aid. Specifically, the International Monetary Fund, or the IMF. The IMF is an organization that gives loans to countries as they need them. This is usually in dollars, and like all fiat currency, is created for the sake of the borrower.
In 2019, a missionary living in El Salvador for several years decided to try something different. Mike Peterson started working with the community of El Zonte to adopt Bitcoin. He introduced Bitcoin to El Zonte so that residents could have more convenience, privacy, and security for their money. They got banking services without the need for a bank and the benefits versus cash were obvious. There’s no need to physically hand over cash and the transaction can be done via phone, which most Salvadorans have.
The results were fantastic for all involved. There is, for instance, a mortgage program by a Christian charity in El Salvador that uses Bitcoin for payment services. This is a far more efficient system than cash. [And] how could anyone build up a credit score if transactions are all done in cash?
A more subtle change is the ability for people in El Zonte to save. The ability to be your own bank and the ability to save without fear of theft made all the difference. Kids started thinking about the future and education and living for the long term. Gang membership went down. Kids stopped dropping out of school.
The full story includes more about the problems with IMF aid and the benefits of Bitcoin. Seems like an editorial as much as a news story, but quite interesting. Watch a video podcast about what happened in El Zonte and beyond (Bitcoin Fixes This podcast).
Russia: Witches Gather to Cast Spells on Putin’s Enemies
Source: Back to Jerusalem, March 2022
If you think that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine isn’t spiritual warfare, then you haven’t been paying attention.
In a gathering of Russia’s most well-known witches and seers, spells were cast on the enemies of President Vladimir Putin. In one of the most important ceremonies, known as “the circle of power,” the witches cast spells and chant incantations.
According to the Russian Ministry of Health in 2017, Russia had around 800,000 people who were listed as practicing some type of spiritual magic as their profession.
The Bible teaches us with the example of Moses and Pharaoh’s magicians, as well as Elijah and Baal’s prophets, that the sorcery of the enemy is no match for the prayers of the saints. Christians around the world have been praying for both the people of Russia and Ukraine and with this information, it is clear that Christians are involved in very real spiritual warfare.
In this edition: Praying for the Muslim world, a book about global mobilization, a hospitality pledge, and a bunch more. Read on.
- Prayer Guide: Hidden Treasures of the Muslim World
- Book: Rethinking Global Mobilization
- Challenge: Will You Take the Hospitality Pledge?
- Documentary: Why Media? Why Video?
- Roundup: Quick Takes on Tools for You (or Your Friends)
- Events: Informative Conferences, Classes, and More
Read or share the email edition or scroll down for individual stories.
Source: Frontiers USA
Deepen your prayer life and discover unique treasures from around the world in a new 30-day prayer guide.
Through short, daily emails, you’ll uncover ancient traditions and cultural objects that are central to Muslims’ everyday lives—from artisanal foods and essential housewares to games and architecture.
Each day’s email equips you with practical ways to pray for Muslim men, women, and children to find and follow Christ.
We are seeing lots of missionaries, teams, and ministries share resources to help you pray for Muslims during Ramadan. Pick one and go for it!
Source: Global Mission Mobilization Initiative
Rethinking Global Mobilization: Calling the Church to Her Core Identity, by Ryan Shaw. IGNITE Media, 2022. 309 pages.
It’s far too easy and common to reduce mission mobilization to inviting individuals to respond to the Great Commission—specifically by becoming missionaries. But do we really believe every Christian has a part in to play in God’s global mission and that it’s a calling for the whole Church? If so, how might that enlarge and energize our mobilization efforts?
Ryan Shaw is President of Global Mission Mobilization Initiative (GMMI, formerly SVM2) and has spent recent decades catalyzing mission mobilization efforts in many countries. He invites us to rethink mission mobilization, develop a biblical theology of mission mobilization, recognize historical patterns of mission and mission mobilization, and devote ourselves to a more unified strategy of global mission.
Although plenty of books have been written to mobilize Christians for world mission, little has been written about mission mobilization itself. This sweeping volume—not too thick but quite thorough—may prove to be a seminal one. There’s a good chapter on types of mission mobilizers, another looking at each of the Great Commission passages, and a chapter about why the author sees the fulfillment of the Great Commission as central to the mission of the Church. Shaw addresses objections and obstacles and supports his points with scripture and other citations.
Visit the book website to learn more. You can get the book from Amazon or elsewhere (US$7.99 for the Kindle edition and US$12.99 for the paperback). You might also want to watch a conversation about the book with Bevin Ginder of GlobalCAST Resources.
See also What We Mean by “Mission Mobilization” on the GMMI website and consider joining the Monthly Day of Prayer for Mission Mobilization, the third Tuesday of each month. The focus for March is praying for the Church in Ukraine.
Rethinking Global Mobilization is included on a recent compilation from The Center for Missionary Mobilization and Retention: See Recommended Books for New Mobilizers.
Source: Welcome Churches
From childhood we are primed to fear strangers, our divided communities reinforce the cultural barriers, and the global pandemic has forced us to keep our distance. We have spent much of the last two years closing our doors to others. The Hospitality Pledge is an attempt to revive, encourage, and inspire a national surge in welcoming. It is a commitment to making 2022 a year of Christian hospitality.
Why now? Many people in our communities need to be shown hospitality, including those experiencing loneliness or homelessness or seeking asylum. Millions of people are fleeing conflict, persecution, famine, and climate disaster and need a safe place to call home.
The Hospitality Pledge is an invitation to take three simple yet revolutionary actions each week.
- Talk with someone new each week and engage in meaningful conversation
- Share something I can once a week with someone who needs it
- Eat with someone each week I wouldn’t normally spend time with
Learn more, sign the pledge, and subscribe to a series of encouraging emails. Welcome Churches is a UK charity with a vision to see every refugee in the UK welcomed by their local church. Love it! Find resources on the Welcome Churches website. Some but not all are UK-specific.
Source: TWR MOTION
Adam, a missionary in North Africa, lives in a country where the government was censoring the internet big time until a few years ago. And during that period, he felt God call him to use the internet to share the gospel, which happens to face overt hostility from authorities.
Despite his hesitation, Adam answered the call. He and other missionaries discovered that social media marketing is a gold detector in identifying and connecting with people who are asking faith questions online, like: “Who is Jesus?” or “Is the Bible true?”
Watch the trailer below, then go to the website to watch the 27-minute documentary about how missionaries are leveraging digital media to further kingdom ministry in some of the most difficult places. Admittedly, it is something of a promotional piece for TWR MOTION (a ministry of Trans World Radio). But it’s great at vision casting and explaining how these strategies work.
You might also be interested in a couple of shorter videos we have linked to before: an explainer-type video on leveraging media to start disciple-making movements and a case study about digital media and church planting in Bosnia.
Note that ministries focused on media and missions tend to work together quite a bit. If one does not offer the resource or training you need, they may be able to help you find it elsewhere.
Last week, I came across a digital media outreach tool that might touch your heart: Watch this short video of a young, Ukrainian refugee praying over her country (version with English subtitles).
Could you use some help to understand or make decisions related to safety and security, like travel planning, or deciding to leave a country or stay put? Read articles from Concilium and share them with others.
Dealing with Stress
Research suggests people serving in international, cross-cultural ministry carry high loads of stress which can hinder their effectiveness. Sustaining in Stress is a new ebook from Valeo (formerly GRC) with eight tips for those living and serving cross-culturally. Registration required.
It may not be too late to sign up for a five-day web-based event designed to refresh and renew women serving internationally. It goes from March 28 to April 1. Learn about the Thrive Virtual Gathering.
How to cook from scratch is something they don’t teach you in missionary training school. Our friends at Go.Serve.Love compiled a a list of things you should learn how to make. See 21 Recipes for Food You Used to Buy (hover over titles to see the links). What would be on your list?
For Fun and Fellowship
Interested in family fun and learning? Check out the Trivial-Pursuit-style game WisKnol (from “wisdom and knowledge”). Not-so-trivial categories include Old Testament, Scripture Recall, Fascinating Facts, and Missions and Evangelism. A Missions Catalyst reader who helped create it recommends it, and proceeds help support 10/40 Window mission efforts.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
April 2 to May 1, 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World (global). An annual prayer campaign.
April 4-6, Support Raising Bootcamp (online). Similar events are held throughout the year in various locations by Support Raising Solutions. Sessions will be offered in Capetown, South Africa (April 12-14), Kigali, Rwanda (April 22-24), and a virtual event is planned for those in Southeast Asia (April 26-28).
April 4 to August 7, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). New online classes begin regularly.
April 5, On Mission 2022 (online). Free virtual conference from Missio Nexus; an annual event. This year’s theme: Risk in missions, a global perspective.
April 7, Regional Update: The Muslim World (online). Provided by Beyond.
April 7-9, Christian Community Health Conference (Cincinnati, OH, USA). An annual event provided by the Christian Community Health Foundation.
April 10-14, Five Days of Prayer for Sikhs (international).
April 11-13, Crisis Management Seminar (Akron, OH, USA). Provided by Crisis Consulting International.
April 11 to May 7, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Missionary Training International.
April 12-13, Equipping Missions for the Cultural Challenges of Singleness, Marriage & Sexuality (Chicago, IL, USA). Event for mission leaders from Missio Nexus.
April 14, Attributes-Based Training: How to Help New Workers Make It on the Field (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
April 14, The Status of Bible Translation & The Global South (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
April 19, Risk in Missions: Practical Insights for Agencies and Churches (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
April 21, The Cost of Missing Half the Church: Let’s Not Fear a Re-look (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
April 21, Fresh Paradigms: Learning How to Make Disciplemakers (online). Part of a series of online Nugget trainings from Beyond.
April 21-24, Christian Medical and Dental Association National Conference (Indianapolis, IN, USA). An annual event for medical professionals.
April 23, Trip Leaders Security Workshop (Colorado Springs, CO, USA). Provided by Crisis Consulting International.
April 25-29, Perspectives Intensive for Pastors & Leaders (Fresno, CA USA).
April 25 to May 8, ORIENT pre-field training for global workers (Eminence, MO, USA). Provided regularly by TRAIN International.
April 28, MultiplyUs Conference (online). Case studies and encouragement to implement disciple-making movement strategies and practices.
View complete calendar. Submissions welcome!
In this edition:
- World: The Status of Global Bible Translation
- China: Rewriting the Bible to Align with Communist Values
- Egypt: President Affirms Building Churches in Every New City
- Ukraine: 48 Hours and a Journey to a New Life
- Philippines: The Blessing of the Pandemic—God’s Deconstruction of My Ministry
View or share the email edition or scroll down for individual stories.
Source: Missio Nexus, March 8, 2022
Imagine your life if you didn’t know the truth of God’s Word. Didn’t know the unconditional love of Jesus. Didn’t know God’s plan for you. Because it didn’t exist in your language. That’s the grim reality for over one billion people around the world.
Today there are more than 3,000 language groups with little or no access to Scripture, and about 2,000 of those don’t have a single verse of Scripture in the language they best understand. Many of these language groups include followers of Christ and even established churches. But with their only access to Scripture being in another language, the deep truths of God’s Word are difficult, if not impossible, to access.
But there is hope! Unprecedented advances in technology, innovation, and collaboration among the global church are accelerating the pace of Bible translation like never before.
Of course, not every Bible translation is good news. See next item…
Source: Christian Headlines, February 18, 2022
A spokesperson for the Christian persecution watchdog group The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) warned that the Chinese government is currently attempting to rewrite the Word of God in accordance with communist values.
“This is a project that the Chinese Communist Party announced in 2019. At the time, they said it would be about a 10-year process … to release a new translation of the Bible,” VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton told Faithwire in a recent interview.
He noted that the reimagined Scriptures would include a variety of principles, including Confucianism and Buddhism.
“This new translation … would really support the Communist Party,” Nettleton added.
See also Dangers of Openly Worshiping Jesus in China: One Man’s Harrowing Story (The Christian Post).
Read on for another story about government and faith.
Source: International Christian Concern, March 14, 2022
President Abdel Fattah al Sisi confirmed Egypt’s initiative for constructing a church in every newly built city, saying, “Where there is a mosque, there must also be a church. And if the church to be built will be attended by even only 100 people, it must be built anyway.” The country’s urban development program includes regulations that a church must be constructed as part of city planning.
These churches are not subject to the 2016 law that regulates non-Muslim worship and mandates that all churches receive permission for renovations, building, and demolition. Though the presidential announcement and commitment to church building was celebrated by the Orthodox and evangelical communities across the country, the new church construction has one major downfall.
Whether intended or not, the new regulation severely limits and poses threats to Egypt’s Muslim-background believers (MBBs). Al-Sisi continued his statements above adding, “so no one will have to meet in an apartment and present that private house as a church.”
MBBs are generally unable to enter clearly identified churches for fear of persecution from their Muslim community or families. Instead, MBBs and those seeking to share the gospel with their Muslim neighbors utilize house churches, meeting in homes.
See also a story about combating persecution in Niger which explains some of the challenges and strategies for overcoming them in another majority-Muslim country (Words of Hope).
Shifting our eyes to Europe, the next story reminds us that the refugees from Ukraine may have a variety backgrounds and beliefs.
Source: WorldVenture, March 5, 2022
Donna and Mark McDonnel are WorldVenture global workers to Ukraine temporarily evacuated to Poland. And they just spent 48 hours straight helping Ukrainian refugees. Because sometimes, that’s what it means to serve.
Donna received a call from her friend and Arabic-language teacher, a Jordanian man teaching in Kyiv.
Donna’s teacher managed to escape with his Ukrainian wife—who was very distressed—and their two kids in their car. “That little suburb, across the street from Kyiv Christian Academy was home to a good-sized Tatar community, and he was teaching Quranic Arabic at a school there,” [she says]. It was recently shelled by the Russian military.
This man and his family traveled with different caravans of people of different nationalities and spent over 48 hours waiting to cross the border into Poland. Donna and the teacher spoke throughout this time of escape, and she helped him think through where to find a new home.
Donna [and others] arranged for lodging to house them on their trip through Poland—an adventure all its own. Eventually, the teacher and his large group made their way to Berlin, Germany, en route to their hoped-for destination of Switzerland. But the start of their new lives has begun with a new challenge: All 11 have tested positive for COVID-19. They are now quarantined. It’s a rough way to start a new life after a harrowing experience fleeing their former lives.
“They are not going back to Ukraine,” Donna reports of her friends. “He sees this as starting a whole new life. His biggest concerns were being received as a Muslim and the rumors of prejudice.”
See also Russian Evangelical Leader Apologizes to Ukrainian Christians and The Wartime Prayers of Ukraine’s Evangelicals (Christianity Today) as well as How the Ukraine War Is Dividing Orthodox Christians (The Conversation).
As the man in the next article found, sometimes having your life turned upside down can be a tremendous blessing.