Missions Catalyst

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World Missions News, Ideas, and Resources
Updated: 51 min 43 sec ago

Bonus: More Events for the September Calendar

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

After we sent our last edition of Missions Catalyst—featuring mission events planned for September—we discovered a few more virtual or hybrid events that might interest you. Take a look!

September 8, Caring for Missionaries During the Holidays (online). A free webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen with Shepherd’s Staff.

September 16-17, Missions Expo (Capetown, South Africa and online). A free, community-based missions conference; held annually.

September 22, The Importance of Crisis Planning/Training (online). Webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen with Crisis Consulting International.

September 19-22, Mission Information Workers Virtual Conference (online). Eight hours over four days for mission researchers and data specialists, from the Global Community of Mission Information Workers.

View the whole calendar.

Prayer, Frontier Filmmaking, & Mobilizing a New Generation

In this edition of Missions Catalyst Resource Reviews: Ways you can pray for the persecuted, a course in ministry filmmaking, and the new book on mobilizing Gen Z for missions (Image: Voice of the Martyrs).
  1. Resource: Global Guide to Praying for the Persecuted in 60 Nations
  2. New Class: Frontier Filmmaking Seminar Online
  3. Book: Mobilizing Gen Z, Challenges and Opportunities for the Global Age of Missions
  4. Event: Virtual Tickets Now Available for Missio Nexus Conference
  5. September Events: Helpful Training, Inspiring Conferences & More

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

Resource: Global Guide to Praying for the Persecuted in 60 Nations

Source: Voice of the Martyrs

VOM’s Global Prayer Guide was created to help you pray more specifically for our brothers and sisters in Christ who risk rejection, imprisonment, and even death as they obediently serve the Lord on dangerous and difficult mission fronts.

The guide includes information on each of the 60 restricted nations and hostile areas where VOM serves our persecuted Christian family members.

Access all the contents from an interactive website. You can also join the VOM mailing list for a free printed copy.

New Class: Frontier Filmmaking Seminar Online

Source: Create International

“For years, I wanted to attend a film school to learn the art of visual storytelling. I kept pushing that dream aside because it seemed too expensive,” says Jeremy. He heard that Create International (a ministry of YWAM) offered training, but the program he had his eye on would require him to travel overseas, leaving his wife and kids for six weeks.

Then Create International announced a new Frontier Filmmaking Seminar Online (FFSO). “This was a game-changer. I registered immediately. I now recommend it to almost everyone I meet who wants to share the gospel with unreached people groups.”

As part of the class, Jeremy connected with Grace, a young woman in Africa who was already learning to make movies. “We collaborated to produce a short film for an unreached group. She found the actors, costumes, props, and a good location to shoot a short script I wrote. She shot the film using only a smartphone! The story was a modern African version of Jesus’ story about a foolish rich man planning to build more wealth for himself and grow idle—not realizing his life was about to end.”

Read I Made a Movie in a Language I Don’t Speak. It includes a link to watch the film Jeremy and Grace made.

The next eight-week Frontier Filmmaking Seminar Online starts September 28 and costs US$250, with some scholarships available. The first two lessons are also available for free (registration required).

Book: Mobilizing Gen Z, Challenges and Opportunities for the Global Age of Missions

Source: William Carey Publishing

Mobilizing Gen Z: Challenges and Opportunities for the Global Age of Missions, by Jolene Erlacher and Katy White. William Carey Publishing, 2022. 194 pages.

Have you seen shifts in the mindset, experiences, and readiness for mission of today’s young adults, particularly those in the US? This book will help you understand the characteristics of Gen Z (born 1996-2010), how these affect their approach to missions specifically, and how we can best connect with, serve, and care for them along the way. I found the book readable, motivating, and research-informed and was impressed by how practical it is without being prescriptive.

For example, the authors provide thoughtful suggestions for including more biblical principles in our mission presentations, ways parents and other adults can disciple young adults through the challenges in today’s culture, and strategies for mobilizers and team leaders to cultivate coaching relationships with young believers. The book also addresses the changing face of missions, globally, and the challenges and opportunities this presents for Gen Z (and the rest of us, too).

Learn more or purchase from William Carey Publishing for US$9.99 (epub) or $14.99 (paperback).

Just want the highlights? Listen to an interview with one of the authors (Missionary Mobilization Podcast).

Event: Virtual Tickets Now Available for Missio Nexus Conference

Source: Missio Nexus

This year’s Mission Leaders Conference and National Church Mission Leaders Conference, on the theme “counting the cost,” is just a month away (September 28-30). It will include four plenary sessions, 12 workshop tracks, and 58 breakout sessions. More than 1,000 mission leaders are expected to attend.

I (Marti) can’t make it every year but will be there for this one. What about you? I’d love to meet or reconnect.

Can’t make it in person? Virtual tickets are now available and start at US$99 for Missio Nexus members. You’ll have access to all of the live sessions and workshops available daily as well as on-demand access to recordings after the event is over.

Learn more or register.

September Events: Helpful Training, Inspiring Conferences & More

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

September 1, Missional Marketing: Building Messages That Matter (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

September 4-16, Second Language Acquisition (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided regularly by the Center for Intercultural Training.

September 5 to October 24, The Mobilized Church (online). Virtual workshop from Sixteen:Fifteen; also offered as an in-person event in various places.

September 5 to December 4, Encountering the World of Islam (online). New online classes start several times a year. Also available in other formats/languages.

September 8, Exploring Issues of Sexuality on the Mission Field (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

September 8-10, Help! We’re Going on a Short-Term Trip (Atlanta, GA, USA). Seminar for short-term team leaders from CultureLink.

September 8-15, Women’s Development Week (Charlotte, NC, USA). Ministry skills and growth training for women in ministry, provided by the Women’s Development Track of Missio Nexus.

September 8 to October 6, Foundations of Media to Movements (online). Tools and training from Mission Media U to develop outreach strategies using new media.

September 12-13, People Raising Conference (online). Be equipped for raising personal support. Offered regularly by People Raising.

September 12-13, Support Raising Bootcamp (Charlotte, NC, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions in various cities and online.

September 13, Shaping the American Church of Tomorrow by Learning from the Global Church of Today (Wheaton, IL, USA). Panel discussion with David Garrison, from Global Gates, Motus Dei, and others.

September 13-19, Traction Conference (Wilderswil, Switzerland). Conference to serve men who are global workers serving cross-culturally. An annual event from Catalyst International.

September 15, Don’t Waste Your Conference! How to Make the Most of a Networking Event (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

September 19-20, Support Raising Bootcamp (Nairobi, Kenya). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

September 20, Contend: Monthly Day of Prayer For Mission Mobilization (global). Coordinated by GMMI and held the third Tuesday of each month.

September 20-21, The Mobilized Church (Murietta, CA, USA). Provided by Sixteen:Fifteen.

September 22-25, New Wineskins Global Missionary Conference (Ridgecrest, NC, USA and online). An Anglican event held every three years.

September 27-28, Standards Introductory Workshop (Orlando, FL, USA). Learn about the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

September 28-30, Mission Leaders Conference (Orlando, FL, USA). An annual event from Missio Nexus.

September 28 to November 30, Frontier Filmmaking Seminar (online). Join Create International for an eight-week training in how to write, produce, direct, film, and edit gospel films for unreached people groups in their language and cultural context.

View the complete calendar, updated regularly. We welcome submissions.

A Digital Church, All about Obon, and More

  1. Iraq: Christians Build a Thriving Digital Church
  2. Middle East: The Gospel Overcomes Barriers and Reaches Brothers    
  3. Japan: All about Obon, the Hungry Ghost Festival
  4. Bangladesh: Church in Buddhist Village Burned, Christians Shunned
  5. Belarus: Fined for River Baptisms, Fined for Pool Baptisms

Iraq: Christians Build a Thriving Digital Church

Source: Mission Network News, August 15, 2022

Over the last few years, Christians in Iraq have built a thriving digital church. Samuel with Redemptive Stories says there are two main reasons.

Firstly, women who come to faith often face persecution, finding it hard to travel alone. Samuel says, “Maybe God has appeared to them in a vision or a dream, or even social media. But still, they might live in their family home. But having access to smartphones has opened up an avenue for them to hear about the gospel and the hope and the joy offered in Jesus Christ.”

Secondly, Samuel says, many people have come to faith in places without physical churches. This especially applies to places in the rural south and west, far away from the big cities.

And many people are coming to faith in the risen Jesus. Samuel says, “I think the biggest shock has been the sheer numbers. If you look at the numbers from different organizations, in terms of those that have responded to the gospel, some are counting numbers in the millions.”

Praise God for the connections being built between Christians in Iraq.

As people move back into areas destroyed by the Islamic State, some have begun rebuilding churches. Samuel says, “That is the ideal. And we look at digital churches in many cases as the bridge to the ideal.”

In the meantime, pray for boldness and encouragement from the Holy Spirit to rest upon Christian in Iraq.

Read the full story. By the way, we did a quick search for more info about Redemptive Stories but only found the stories they have published in partnership with Mission Network News for the last five years or so.

Did you know? Some ministries plant digital churches on purpose, not as a plan B. These churches may operate on Facebook, YouTube, and/or Zoom, through digital gaming communities, or on other platforms. Get a taste through TheChurch.Digital and DigitalChurch.Network.

Middle East: The Gospel Overcomes Barriers and Reaches Brothers

Source: Christian Aid Mission, August 4, 2022

It happens from time to time, but it had never happened for one leader of a ministry based in the Middle East—each of two Muslim relatives finding out the other was secretly seeking Christ.

In a country undisclosed for security reasons, a 22-year-old Muslim recently passed by the local ministry’s church site and picked up a New Testament from the stack outside available for the taking, the leader said.

“He took it home, secretly read from it, and hid it, because he feared what his family might do to him,” the leader said. “He thought for sure that if they saw him reading a Bible, they would get so angry.”

Meantime, his 24-year-old brother was watching the same ministry’s gospel messages online. He saw a video on basic Christian doctrines on social media and secretly put his faith in Christ.

The full story includes several other encouraging accounts about the gospel going forth and a description of some current ministry approaches.

See also Unable to Trust Family Members, Milad Can Only Trust the Lord (Help the Persecuted). What a power-packed headline! You might also be interested in another story about God revealing himself to a Muslim man, in this case through a remarkable dream (Beyond).

Japan: All about Obon, the Hungry Ghost Festival

Source: East-West Ministries, August 2022

Obon is an annual Buddhist celebration in which families, especially Japanese Buddhists, honor the return of their ancestors’ spirits to the mortal realm. Celebrated for hundreds of years, Obon is also known as Ghost Festival, Festival of Souls, or Festival of Lanterns. Buddhist temples schedule Obon celebrations during the summer months, and the event lasts three days.

Obon is rooted in the story of a monk freeing his mother from the hungry ghosts. The celebration commemorates all deceased ancestors and welcomes them back to Earth. The event includes a special dance and the lighting of lanterns.

During Obon, Buddhists reunite with family and friends to remember those who have passed. The festival is recognized in Japanese communities worldwide. Every Buddhist temple celebrates Obon uniquely, but fireworks, dancing, carnival games, and local food are often a part of the celebration.

The full article includes more detail and gets into ways you can use Obon to share the gospel. Note that this year Obon was observed August 13-15 or thereabouts (we see conflicting reports). See also a description of the Obon Festival from National Today.

August included another holiday you should know about, a big deal for Shiite Muslims. Watch a video from an Ashura procession in Melbourne, Australia (Musawi Films on YouTube, 23 minutes) or read more about the meaning of Ashura (Religion News Service).

Bangladesh: Church in Buddhist Village Burned, Christians Shunned

Source: Open Doors, August 11, 2022

Believers are relatively few in Chattagram Hill Tracts, the southeastern part of Bangladesh. The population is dominated by indigenous peoples, with Christians scattered throughout the Buddhist population. Christians [there] are often mistreated, largely without consequence.

Around 10 pm, the village’s local church was alight with flames. When the shocked worshipers came to their church the next day, they were greeted with a depressing sight—every Bible, chair, hymn book, and the pulpit reduced to ashes.

The church was built on the outskirts of the village to appease Buddhists in the community. A church in their village, they believed, should be out of sight and out of mind. Evidently, this church was out of time, too. Arsonists had to intentionally go out of their way to get there.

The church has cultivated a strong legacy of ministry and discipleship since its founding in 2014. Many Buddhist-background believers were part of the congregation, despite facing threats and danger from their Buddhist community. In the midst of such discouraging threats, the church continued to grow and bring people to Jesus.

When Christians pressed for action, the village turned on them, nearly escalating to physical violence. As they were asked to leave, Christians were told to not rebuild the church.

Read the full article. A related story says this happened on June 30.

You may have heard about another church fire that got more headlines. It happened on Sunday, August 14 at a Coptic church in Egypt. The accident killed 41 people, including 15 children. Please pray for the families of the victims and survivors.

Belarus: Fined for River Baptisms, Fined for Pool Baptisms

Source: Forum 18, August 5, 2022

On July 28, a court in the southeastern city of Gomel fined Protestant pastor Dmitry Podlobko [of Living Faith Church] two weeks’ average wage for holding outdoor baptisms earlier in July in a pool on family-owned property without seeking official approval. This is his second fine within a year to punish him for conducting baptisms.

Captain Vasili Kravtsov, head of Gomel District Police which prepared the case against Pastor Podlobko, insisted that he had violated the law. “Before conducting any religious rituals you need to ask permission from the local Executive Committee,” he told Forum 18. “He didn’t have such permission. This is the law and I am obliged to carry it out.”

If a religious community repeats a violation within a year, the regime’s senior religious affairs official, Plenipotentiary for Religious and Ethnic Affairs Aleksandr Rumak, can apply to the court for the religious community to be stripped of its legal status (and thus its right to exist).

Organizers of public events (including religious events) need to get approval from local Executive Committees [and pay significant fees] if they plan to hold them anywhere apart from places approved by local authorities.

Read the full article and pray for this church and others.

Looking for more encouraging news from Europe? Read about diaspora churches in Sweden—including at least 40 planted by Nigerians (European Evangelical Alliance).

See also an article about ministries in Ukraine collaborating as response efforts shift focus (Christianity Today).

How to Inspire God’s People for Their Global Destiny

Part 2: Inspire the Mind Bevin Ginder, GlobalCAST Resources

This article is the second in a three-part series looking at core principles of mission mobilization: ways to inspire God’s people for their global destiny.

In the first part, Bevin reminded us that people around us pick up on our passions and watch our lives rather than just listening to what we say. So, if we’re going to be effective mission mobilizers, we have to start with ourselves by keeping our passion for God’s kingdom purposes strong and fresh. Bevin shared some practical ways we can do that.

Now let’s look at key ways to inspire the hearts and minds of others.

Recognize Two Mobilization Challenges

In the West, we have a lot of work to do in the area of missions education, helping believers in the West to re-learn, to understand, what missions is and what their part in mission is. Not long ago the Barna organization did a big survey that showed that 51% of the people who go to church in the US did not know even know what the Great Commission is.

In the Global South, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, there is a different kind of challenge. I have had the privilege of a front-row seat in my organization to meet many Latin American, Asian, and African men and women, face to face. And these guys are incredible. They have strong character. They have a clear call to the nations. They even have the training and equipping to some degree. What they don’t have is support.

That points to another mobilization challenge: We need many more leaders who are not only going to train those who will go, but also those who will stay and send. We need to help those who stay understand their privilege and responsibility to pray and give to support those who will go. We need people to mobilize and inspire the minds of the senders.

Answer the “Why” Questions

In both cases, a key to inspiring people for their global destiny is to make sure we answer the question, “Why?” That has to be a priority. Too often, especially regarding missions, we jump into where to go, how to do things, and who to serve…. all important things. But we should start with why.

  • Why should we care about the nations?
  • What does the Bible say about the nations?
  • What is God’s heart for the nations?

If we answer the question “why should we care?” then people with a good reason to care will be motivated to learn other things. But they won’t go as far without strong motivation.

Teach The Biblical Basis for Missions

A key to answering the “why?” question is to be ready to give a good case for what the Bible says about missions. Many people are actually thinking, hey, I know maybe a few missions verses. (But I guess 51% of those in my country don’t even know one missions verse!) For those who do know some missions verses, they can come up with a couple, 15 maybe if they’re really good! But they could be thinking, “There are 31,000 verses in the Bible. If there are 15 verses about missions, is it really that important?” That’s a “why?” question!

So, we as mission advocates, as missions mobilizers, need to be ready to show people that missions is a theme that goes from Genesis all the way through to the book of Revelation and ties the whole story of the Bible together. We have to be able to do that in a creative, new way for each generation.

Share Information About the Task Remaining

When you’re talking about inspiring the mind, compelling information is important. We have amazing sources for information about missions and about the world, like the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Operation World, and Joshua Project. Others have done the work to show where the people groups are and what the need is, and we can get that and make sure it gets to the people who are praying and the people who are giving, and the people who are going.

Part of our job as mission advocates is to connect our communities to the information that’s out there. I like to share bits and pieces people can remember, like the fact that 86% of the Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims in the 10/40 Window do not have a Christian friend. That’s the kind of information people can remember.

But we have to be careful with information because sometimes we can use information like a club and pound people with it. And if we push too hard with information or in the wrong way, people push back, right? They close their hearts. They close their minds. So the information is good. But I found that actually, stories inspire even better than information!

Remember We’re Wired for Stories

Think of a time you were listening to somebody talking and giving lots of information. But then they say, “I want to tell you a story.” I don’t know about you, but when somebody says “Once upon a time” or starts to tell a story, I start to listen in a whole new way. I listen better. And that story is often the only thing I remember.

It seems that just about every culture in the world loves stories, and often actually prefers to get important ideas through stories. So we should learn to grow as storytellers, to develop and practice the art of storytelling.

The Story God Is Telling

I find it very fruitful to reframe missions as a story God is telling. We can talk about the task and we can talk about the need. Those things are real. We can give lots of charts and statistics about unreached people groups. But what about the reality that this is actually a big story God is telling? All the things we love about a story, whether it’s a movie or a book, are actually in the story that God is telling.

If we like romantic stories, well, guess what? God is our bridegroom God, and he’s in love with his bride. And missions is not just a task, it’s inviting and preparing the bride for the party at the end of the story. And that bride is made up of every nation, tongue, and tribe, right? You see, it’s a romance story!

If you like action stories, hey, this story has that! There’s a bad guy who led a revolt and is still creating problems. And we take real risks and are invited to pray dangerous prayers like, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” We go do crazy things for the kingdom of God! That is the reality. That’s part of this story.

This Story Includes an Invitation

If we reframe missions in light of the story God is telling, it’s much more inspirational. And missions is not just a task; it comes with an invitation to ordinary people just like us. He loves to use people just like us to play key roles in the story: fishermen, tax collectors, and people who may have no skills or finances.

Let me just close with a story for you. This is a story about an amazing Asian couple, friends of mine. The husband had been involved in missions for some time, and then he met an amazing lady and they got married. But his new wife was not at all sure she wanted to be a missionary.

They did a Discipleship Training School. I had the privilege of teaching on missions for one week in their school. I approached missions not as task and need and duty, but as the privilege to be a part of an amazing story God is telling, a story filled with romance and adventure. And she caught that. It brought her to the place where she was able to say “yes” to God’s invitation to be a missionary.

Now, together as a couple, they have been doing an amazing job mobilizing many workers into their country and from their country to other places.

Going Further

Could you use some training (or inspiration) as a mission advocate or mobilizer? GlobalCAST Resources will be offering an eight-week, online missions advocacy course from September 5 to October 28.

Learn more or register through YWAM’s University of the Nations.

This article was adapted from a video presentation you can find on the GlobalCAST Resources website. See Inspire The Mind!

Next month: Part 3, Inspire the Heart

About Bevin Ginder

Bevin is part of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and co-founder of GlobalCAST Resources. He loves to connect, equip, and coach missions leaders, mobilizers, and advocates. Follow GlobalCAST on social media for regular doses of inspiration.

Opening photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash.

A Dream of God’s House | A Church Plant in Poland

  1. Muslim World: A Dream of God’s House
  2. Poland: A Church Plant Grows From the War in Ukraine
  3. Myanmar: Criticism of Buddhism Will be Punished by Law
  4. World: More Than 32 Million Bibles Distributed in 2021
  5. Israel: Municipality Takes Messianic Ministry to Court

Read or share the email edition, or scroll down for more.

Scenes from a recent service at Anna and Zmicier’s church plant in Warsaw. See the story below (Lausanne Movement).

Muslim World: A Dream of God’s House

Source: Frontiers, August 1, 2022

Rafiq couldn’t keep his hands from trembling as he knocked on the door of his friend Daniel’s home. A few months before, the two had struck up a conversation when Daniel came into Rafiq’s café and shared something he’d read about Jesus that morning.

Daniel, a long-term Frontiers field worker, had become a regular customer and a good friend. They’d had many spiritual discussions, and now Rafiq hoped Daniel could explain the terrifying dream that he’d had the night before. Like many Muslims in his community, Rafiq believed dreams had meanings that could be deciphered.

Daniel greeted Rafiq and welcomed him inside. Rafiq felt a bit shaken as he walked across the tiled floor.

“Is everything alright?” Daniel asked.

“I want to tell you about a dream I had,” Rafiq explained. “I can’t stop thinking about it.”

Daniel took a seat in the living room and gestured for Rafiq to join him. “Tell me about your dream.”

Rafiq took a deep breath. “In my dream, I was going out on a dark night and saw a house full of light and people,” he said. “As I got near the house, I saw a man standing in the doorway, speaking to the people inside. It was you.”

“Really? I was in your dream?” Daniel’s eyes widened. “Then what happened?”

“I tried to get closer so I could go in,” Rafiq continued, “but vicious dogs attacked me, biting me and pulling my clothes with their teeth to stop me from entering.” He shuddered.

Read the full article. Intriguing.

See another story with a dream about God’s house, Filipino Muslim Meets Christ in Dream, Starts House Church (Open Doors).

Also read Why Are Muslims Coming to Know Christ More Than Ever? (Go.Serve.Love.) Pithy and compelling.

Poland: A Church Plant Grows From the War in Ukraine

Source: Lausanne Movement, August 1, 2022

Early one December morning in 2021, Zmicier and Anna Chviedaruk woke to loud knocking and shouting at the door. The Belarusian police⁠ had come.

“It was like in the movies, with armed guys holding shields and guns, shouting ‘Lie on the floor!’” says Zmicier.

The police beat Zmicier, pilfered through their belongings, and took him away. In the car, they used a taser to force him to record a video saying the police were polite to him.

“He was sentenced to 15 days in jail,” says Anna.

An hour after Zmicier was taken away, Anna learned she was pregnant with their first child. It was the beginning of a harrowing months-long journey that would take the couple from Belarus to Ukraine—at the outbreak of war—and finally to Poland.

The full story provides background on the situation in Belarus, includes an interesting snapshot of Zmicier’s experience in prison, and explains how the family ended up planting a multi-ethnic church for Russian-speaking refugees.

Another Lausanne article, this one from 2017, asks, Is God Reviving Europe Through Refugees?

See also Where Evil Abounds in Ukraine, the Church Is the Best Remedy (The Christian Post).

Myanmar: Criticism of Buddhism Will be Punished by Law

Source: International Christian Concern, August 1, 2022

The Burmese military’s Major General Zaw Min Tun spoke at a press conference in Myanmar’s capital city on July 26.

In his address, General Zaw Min Tun promised that any verbal, written, or online post insulting Buddhism will be punished according to law. Flaunting punishment for those who insult the religion is a clear attempt to galvanize religious extremists and nationalists into taking action against civilians.

Since the military’s takeover of Myanmar’s democratic government last February, the military junta has been working closely with Buddhist priests to stomp out civil unrest. The strategy’s effectiveness has fallen flat, however, as Burmese citizens accuse Buddhist priests of encouraging the military to carry out unjust punishment against civilians.

Read the full article.

Also read a story about churches being burned down, destroyed, or restricted from gathering in parts of the country (Open Doors).

From a neighboring country: A Thai Buddhist starts reading the Bible, but how will he respond when what it says collides with his culture? Read Panit’s Story: Challenges of Faith in Southeast Asia (Pioneers-USA).

World: More Than 32 Million Bibles Distributed in 2021

Source: Evangelical Focus, July 19, 2021

The distribution of Bibles slightly increased worldwide in 2021, the United Bible Societies recently reported in a press release.

According to their data, around 32.6 million complete Bible editions were distributed last year, “after the pandemic-related slump in Bible distribution in the previous year,” the situation has stabilized again.

Compared to the previous year (30.9 million copies), this was an increase of 5.5% in 2021.

Furthermore, around 20% of all full Bibles distributed were downloaded from the internet, so that the share of digital Bibles is lower than in the first “corona year” 2020, but is 15% higher than in 2019.

According to the report, the distribution of digital editions “is playing an increasingly important role, especially in crisis regions.”

Read the full story.

You might also be interested in a video-based story about the creation of a New Testament for the Yupik people of St. Lawrence Island in Alaska (Wycliffe Bible Translators; about seven minutes long).

Israel: Municipality Takes Messianic Ministry to Court

Source: Middle East Concern, June 23, 2022

Prayer is requested for a ministry caring for the needy in Sderot, near Gaza, and its associated Messianic congregation as they face two court cases and opposition from ultra-orthodox Jews.

City of Life Ministries (CLM) rents a large space in the industrial area of Sderot for humanitarian work and congregational meetings. In June 2020 CCTV picked up an ultra-orthodox Jew who had illegally entered the building and was using his phone to record videos. CLM reported the incident to the police and made an official complaint. However, at a July 2020 court hearing, the judge treated the intruder leniently, only forbidding him from approaching within 300 meters [of] the building for a one-month period.

Yad L’Achim—a Jewish organization opposed to evangelistic activity—staged a protest outside CLM in August 2020. A chief rabbi also visited the property owners to try to persuade them (unsuccessfully) to cancel the rental agreement. On August 12, 2020, CLM received a letter from the Engineering Department of the municipality summoning pastor Michael Beener for questioning following an “investigation” (though no one from the Engineering Department had actually formally approached CLM to inspect the premises). According to Michael, the questions focused more on CLM’s funding than the building or the humanitarian activities and congregational meetings.

Even though CLM hired an architect and surveyor to check and approve the building’s suitability for the ministry’s purposes, Sderot Municipality has brought two legal cases (against Michael and against CLM) claiming that as a public place of worship they do not meet zoning requirements. The first hearing was scheduled for June 23 but delayed until September 29 to allow the lawyer representing Michael and CLM time to prepare.

Read the full article with prayer points.