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USA: Fifty Miles in the Canyon

Source: Pioneers USA, May 15, 2021

A group of Christians and Muslims drops down into one of the longest slot canyons in the world, at the start of a week-long, 50-mile hike together. They eat, sleep, climb, laugh and argue, all while hiking through an ice-cold river in a 1,000-foot canyon. The goal: to survive, build relationships and seek God together.

Release the sound of hope! | May Resource Reviews

You’re getting the May edition of Resource Reviews early. We changed our publication schedule this month. Practical Mobilization, from Shane Bennett, will come your way on May 26.

  1. Will You Join the 60-Second Hope Story Challenge?
  2. Curriculum: Take Kids on a Global Adventure With Kate & Mack
  3. Bible Study: God’s Heart for the Foreigner
  4. Article: Four Churches Show How to Pack an Online Missions Punch
  5. Book: Love Thy Neighbor
  6. Events: Coming in June

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

Will You Join the 60-Second Hope Story Challenge?

Source: Discover Hope, a ministry of Youth for Christ Australia

Join the #HopeStoryChallenge and release the sound of hope by sharing your personal testimony of how Jesus has transformed your life.

Step 1. Film a 60-second video on your phone of your testimony/story of hope (my life before Jesus, how I met Jesus, my life with Jesus) and finish with an invitation to follow Jesus.

Step 2. Share the video to whatever social media you have (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube etc.) and use the hashtags #HopeStoryChallenge & #HopeStory.

Step 3. Tag five friends to nominate them to share their Hope Story.

Learn more, find resources, and watch sample videos. Thoughts? Maybe you could do this with your small group and/or make a series of videos to show as part of a church or youth group gathering.

The Hope Movement is also organizing 90 Days of Hope (May 30 to August 28), culminating in a Global Day of Hope August 28, though it is not clear to me what either will involve.

Curriculum: Take Kids on a Global Adventure With Kate & Mack

Source: Wycliffe Bible Translators

It’s never too early to teach kids about the beauty and diversity of God’s creation. We see this diversity through different cultures, languages, and people. But no matter how different we may appear, there’s one thing that’s true for all people: God loves each of us, no matter where we live or what language we speak.

In “Sunday School With Kate & Mack,” you can take elementary-age kids on an adventure around the world through various activities and crafts that help them learn about the importance of having God’s Word in the language and format we understand best. Curriculum includes six different activities you can mix and match to fit your lesson plan. Each activity takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

Learn more or download materials. They’re free but registration is required. Wycliffe has lots of material for kids.

See a new book that came out in 2020, Raising Kids with a Heart for Mission or listen to author Danny Akin talk about teaching kids to love the nations (The Gospel Coalition).

Bible Study: God’s Heart for the Foreigner

Source: Global Frontier Missions

God’s heart for the foreigner is very clear throughout Scripture, and welcoming the nations plays a huge role in the fulfillment of the Great Commission to see every tribe, tongue, people, and nation delighting in and worshiping the Lord.

God’s Heart for the Foreigner includes a video, links to more than 80 scripture passages, and half a dozen discussion questions. That should be plenty of material to equip you to facilitate a group study or teach a class on this topic, and it’s great to have it all in one place.

This lesson is part of GFM’s online Missionary Training School. They are putting together an August 2021 Cohort for those who would like to dive into it with a group online rather than study on their own.

And speaking of immigrants, did you see the latest “missiographic” in the North America Diaspora series from Missio Nexus? This one looks at the 520,000+ unreached people in Greater Los Angeles.

Article: Four Churches Show How to Pack an Online Missions Punch

Source: Catalyst Services

How can a church effectively communicate about their mission efforts through their website? Catalyst Services selected four church websites which do a great job presenting their missions involvement. Next they recruited some internet-savvy people to critique all four sites, highlighting the strengths of each as well as suggesting some enhancements.

Don’t miss ten guidelines at the end of the article to help you develop strong and effective missions-related content for your church website.

Read the article. Then browse the Postings archive for more like it.

Book: Love Thy Neighbor

Source: WestBow Press

Love Thy Neighbor: The True, Encouraging & Hilarious Tales of an American English Teacher in Southeast Asia (revised edition), by Alice Crocker. WestBow Press, 2020. 188 pages.

For anyone who needs a laugh in these crazy times, these stories may help—especially if you have spent time in Southeast Asia! Alice lived and taught English in Sumatra, Indonesia for more than two decades. Her lighthearted stories are winsome and well told.

Expat travelogues have a way of poking fun at local culture, but Alice chooses to laugh at herself instead and express only love and respect for her friends, neighbors, and local hosts. This book was first published in 2010 but was revised and re-released in 2020, along with a sequel composed of more stories like these.

Learn more or purchase the e-book edition for $3.99 from Amazon or WestBow Press. Also available in paperback.

Events: Coming Your Way in June

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

(See also our list of May events.)

June 2, Apostolic Imagination: Recovering a Biblical Vision for the Church’s Mission Today (online). Virtual gathering for church mission leaders. Provided by Missio Nexus.

June 2-3, Mission Agency Consultation (Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, USA). Provided by Sixteen:Fifteen.

June 4-5, Christian Community Health Conference (online). Rescheduled from previous March dates. Provided by the Christian Community Health Foundation.

June 5-6, World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk (international). Coordinated by the Viva Network.

June 7, The Mobilized Church: Keys to Unlock Missions Potential (online). Eight-week virtual experience on Monday. This will also be offered as a two-day workshop in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, November 9-10. Provided by Sixteen:Fifteen.

June 7, Missionary Care Best Practices (online). Virtual gathering for church mission leaders. Provided by Missio Nexus.

June 7 to October 10, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). New online classes begin regularly. A more intensive version will be offered June 7 to August 15.

June 9-12, Field Security Seminar (Lake George, CO, USA). Prepare to live, work, and travel in high-risk environments. Offered by Crisis Consulting International.

June 16-18, Support Raising Bootcamp (online). Similar events held throughout the year in various locations, or virtually as needed. Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

June 20, World Refugee Day (international). Many churches observe this with prayer on the Sunday before or after.

June 22-26, Field Security Management Seminar (Waxhaw, NC, USA). Offered by Crisis Consulting International.

June 23, Becoming Bilingual (online). CEO leader briefing from Missio Nexus. Note: The title is metaphorical; topic is how to effectively communicate the value of what your organization does.

June 24-26, NAAMC Virtual Experience (online). Provided by the National African American Missions Council; open to all.

View the complete calendar. Corrections and submissions are welcome.

Songs of Hope | World News Briefs

Among the Buryat in Siberia, it’s the older generation coming to Christ. Learn how songs in their own language are empowering influential elders to show the people the gospel is for them. Story below (SEND International).

  1. RUSSIA: Songs of Hope in a Siberian Heart Language
  2. NORTH KOREA: More Than 25 Million Starving as Famine Spreads
  3. INDIA: Christian Pastor Attacked and Forced into Hindu Ritual
  4. THAILAND: “Yes! This Is What I’ve Been Searching For”
  5. USA: May 6 Is the National Day of Prayer

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

RUSSIA: Songs of Hope in a Siberian Heart Language

Source: SEND International, April 2021

Among the Buryat in Siberia, it’s the older generation that’s coming to Christ.

“In the Buryat culture, elders have authority over the young,” explains Daniella, who worked among the Buryat for 12 years. “If a young guy is the first one in the family to become a believer, he will be mocked. But if grandma and great aunt and uncle become believers, the younger ones will pay attention. That’s what God is doing now! There are lots of elderly believers, and they are very active in evangelizing others.”

In 2013, Daniella and three others started a music group to help their Russian church feel more welcoming to Buryat. “There is a misconception that you have to become Russian to be a Christian,” Daniella said. “We wanted to show that this is not the case!”

But most of the songs at that time, even if they were performed on Buryat instruments, contained lyrics translated from other cultures. The Buryat needed their own songs, in their heart language, to connect with the influential older generation. In 2018, the Praise Workshop was born, to write, perform and distribute these songs.

The Praise Workshop singers and its children’s choir have now recorded six music videos, releasing them on YouTube and social media channels, where they’ve been viewed more than 25,000 times, mainly by people in Russia and Mongolia.

You can worship with the Buryat! Read the full story and follow links to music videos.

NORTH KOREA: More than 25 Million Starving as Famine Spreads

Source: Open Doors, April 29, 2021

North Korean refugee Seojun grows emotional as he remembers the hardship of growing up during North Korea’s “Great Famine” in the 1990s. He shares how he roamed the countryside foraging for vegetables, often going hungry.

A new report by the United Nations indicates North Koreans could be facing the same situations Seojun described. The UN released a statement saying that 40 percent of the country’s population (25.8 million) is starving.

While North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has previously told North Koreans to “tighten their belts” and has spoken about the country’s economic difficulties, at the beginning of this month, speaking at a party conference, Kim used words he has not previously uttered publicly to describe the current situation facing North Koreans, including more than an estimated 400,000 underground Christians.

Speaking to his party officials, the 37-year-old leader called on them to “wage another, more difficult ‘Arduous March’ in order to relieve our people of the difficulty, even a little.” The Arduous March refers to the name the people gave the great famine of the 1990s in which 2-3 million people died—a crisis created when the fall of the Soviet Union left North Korea without vital aid.

Full story includes a video in which Seojun, now a pastor in South Korea, remembers the famine of the 1990s, as well as an update on the COVID-19 situation in North Korea.

See also an analysis of the situation from the BBC and a distressing report from World Vision about seven million people at risk of starvation in six countries in East Africa.

INDIA: Pastor Attacked and Forced into Hindu Ritual

Source: Morning Star News, April 20, 2021

Pastor Sanjay Bhandari had taken his wife for a medical check-up earlier this month when they decided to visit her sister in the same area in Karnataka state, southwest India.

“While we were still having tea, a few men barged inside the house and, grabbing me by my shirt collar, they dragged me outside, accusing me of carrying out conversions,” Pastor Bhandari told Morning Star News. “I tried very hard to explain that it was my relatives’ house and that we were only paying them a casual visit, but the men refused to listen.”

The Hindu extremists in Halaga village, near Belgaum city, Belgaum District also ignored the pleas of his wife’s family that day, April 5. The men took Pastor Bhandari outside, where 50 to 60 Hindu extremists were waiting, he said.

The mob paraded him a mile to the rented worship hall where he has led Sunday services for five years, hitting and kicking him along the way, he said.

“They continued to hit me as they dragged me,” said Pastor Bhandari, a resident of Belgaum city. “They abused me and Jesus Christ in filthy language and pressured me to hail, ‘Jai Sri Ram [Hail lord Ram],’ as they beat me.”

The mob accused him of converting their community to Christianity and trying to convert the family he was visiting—though they are already Christian, he said.

Read the full story.

As COVID continues to surge in India, we’re seeing numerous stories about people impacted and others trying to help—including members of the Indian diaspora. Did you realize the Indian diaspora, 18 million strong, is the largest in the world? (The Economic Times).

THAILAND: “Yes! This Is What I’ve Been Searching For”

Source: International Mission Board, April 14, 2021

Choi had grown up in a rural village made up of bamboo huts carved into the side of a hill. Her community had no clean water and wasn’t accessible by car, so when our teams discovered her curiosity about the gospel through her daughter, they hiked to the summit to meet Choi and share the hope of God’s love with her searching heart.

Sitting around the campfire at night, our partners switched between Thai, English, and the village dialect to communicate with Choi. She was eager to hear the Good News but didn’t know how to read, so she asked each of our partners to share their testimonies verbally. Once she had heard them witness to the transformation God’s presence had brought in their lives, Choi jumped up and exclaimed, “Yes! This is what I’ve been searching for!”

Soon, Choi was the most prominent evangelist in the foothills.

The full story shares how God delivered Choi from witchcraft and her daughter from prostitution.

USA: May 6 Is the National Day of Prayer

Source: Prayercast, May 5, 2021

Tomorrow (May 6) is the National Day of Prayer in the United States. And it comes at a complicated time in American history. The deep divisions feel insurmountable. The hurts and griefs feel unresolvable. Many Americans feel powerless. But we serve an all-powerful God! May the Holy Spirit ignite united prayer for America, across this nation and around the world, at this critical moment in history.

Watch the video and read related materials.

Take a look at the official National Day of Prayer resources.

April 2021 Resource Reviews

  1. Stratus: Missions Data Reimagined
  2. Online Course: Reach International Students
  3. Book: Missionary God, Missionary Bible
  4. Article: Missionary Marriage—Ideas to Keep It Together
  5. Video: Chasing Life
  6. Events: May Classes, Webinars, and More

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

Stratus: Missions Data Reimagined

Source: Radical

Could you use a tool that pulls data from diverse Christian and secular sources, analyzes physical and spiritual needs country by country, and identifies where the needs are the greatest? Stratus is a brand-new resource designed to help the Church recognize imbalances and reallocate resources more strategically.

Take a look. It does seem rather complex. I’d be interested in your input on its uses, strengths, and limitations.

Online Course: Reach International Students

Source: International Students, Inc.

What are the first things you need to know to get started with outreach to international students in your community? ISI harnessed their years of experience to create a short training course anyone can use to get themselves (or other volunteers) up to speed.

Ten short videos (five to ten minutes each) cover why international student ministry is significant, how to get started, ideas for outreach, tips for home groups, evangelism, storytelling, and more. Each one also includes links to helpful tools, articles, and other resources you can download. And it’s all free. Registration required.

Learn more or take the course.

Book: Missionary God, Missionary Bible

Source: Abide Publishers

Missionary God, Missionary Bible, by Dick Brogden. Abide Publishers, 2020. 420 pages.

Missionary God, Missionary Bible is a one-year, missions-centered devotional based on a chronological reading of the Bible. Throughout the book, author Dick Brogden makes the case that neither God nor His Bible lets us under-emphasize how central all nations are to His overall plan. Each day includes a Scripture reading, a devotional connecting the reading to God’s plan to reach the nations (though you may find some of them a stretch), and an unreached group to pray for.

The author is an Assemblies of God missionary in the Middle East.

Learn more or purchase the Kindle edition from Amazon for Kindle $4.99 or get the paperback for US$14.99. Note that the Amazon preview is quite generous, including the introduction and all the entries for January.

See also Live Dead Joy: 365 Days of Living and Dying with Jesus.

Article: Missionary Marriage—Ideas to Keep It Together

Source: Janel Breitenstein, Go.Serve.Love

Family friends headed overseas racked up well over 20 medical appointments before they left: Immunizations. Examinations. Checking out weird little problems they didn’t want to rear their ugly heads in a nation with less-developed medical care.

We need the same mindset with our hearts, minds, and marital relationships before heading into the pressure cooker of a missionary marriage.

What could use a tune-up? And if you don’t know… will you make the effort to find out?

Read the article and explore links. Go.Serve.Love has a lot of content to help you take your next step toward global service or assist others. Take a look, for example, at Does Christianity Destroy Culture?

Video: Chasing Life

Source: Moving Works

After graduating high school, Robin rejects his Christian upbringing to live life to its fullest. It isn’t until his parents reveal a long-held family secret that Robin discovers the life he has been missing all along.

This film is in German with English subtitles. It’s part of a series of five short, gospel-centered stories to equip the church and engage millions of Germans who don’t know Jesus.

Watch films and explore the website for films in several other languages and created in partnership with ministries in various contexts.