Source: Asian Access, March 8, 2022
God has used the pandemic to dismantle the ministry construct under which I had been working. The pandemic forced me to embrace undoing ministry. I had no choice because pandemic rules and restrictions grounded me at home. Slowly, the restrictions created by the pandemic became God’s instrument to deconstruct my ministry practices and perspective.
Deconstruction made it clear that what I had prioritized and pursued in life and ministry needed radical review and revision. The time and space created by the pandemic provided needed time to lazily linger in Bible reading and reflection, writing, and prayer. I grappled with the truth that ministry is all about participation in the work of God, not performance in the ministry.
God deconstructed my ministry so that he could do the spiritual reconstruction needed to help me to focus on what really matters as defined by the values and vision of the kingdom of God. God let me see that many things I had considered as success were not really significant in the kingdom of God. In the eyes of God, small works of love in the obscurity of the ordinary are significant and rewarded (see Matthew 25:34-40).
Read the full story. The author leads the A2’s ministry in the Philippines.
Asian Access also shared A Call to End the War and Pray for Peace, with prayers and statements about Russia and Ukraine from ministry leaders across Asia.
Turns out my seven-year-old son has a superpower. Not the “power of hyperspeed” he imagines but the power of dodging. Yes, dodging. I’ve seen it in action.
Months ago, while we were enjoying some family time on the front porch, his 12-year-old sister inadvertently dribbled the basketball off her foot. It caromed directly toward the boy’s face, who, though not watching, tipped his head out of the way with scary-good timing. The ball sailed by instead of giving him a bloody nose.
Then, two weeks ago at dinner, I failed to account for Colorado’s extreme barometric pressure swings when I opened the ranch dressing. This resulted in a thumb-sized glob of dressing rocketing across the table. Again, with uncanny timing, the boy leaned to the side, allowing the dressing to hit and subsequently drip down the chair right behind where his little, lithe body had been. I know not what this superpower portends!
Similarly, I seem to also have a gift for dodging, though it’s less a superpower and more a refined avoidance. Prepping to preach on John the Baptist this past week brought this home for me. Some listeners wanted to dodge John’s message: the Pharisees and Sadducees desired the virtue-signaling points of getting dunked but not the hassle of changed behavior.
As for Herod, he dodged by tossing John the Peskiest into prison.The Radical Message of John the Baptist
It seems that the crowd, some tax-gatherers, and the soldiers honestly wanted to feel the full weight of John’s message. I was stunned by their questions and John’s answers. And I don’t want to dodge them.
If you’ve read through the Gospel of Luke a few times in your Christian walk you may find it easy to breeze by what John tells them. I think, at least for me, it might be worth a non-dodging pause:
Crowd: What should we do then?
John: Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.
Tax collectors: Teacher, what should we do?
John: Don’t collect any more than you are required to.
Soldiers: And what should we do?
John: Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.
In each case, John is saying, “Do right regarding your resources and do right to others who lack your resources.” One commentator says, “Luke possesses a sensitive, compassionate theology of the poor.”
I wonder: Do I?Choosing a Wartime Lifestyle
As that question rolled around in my head, I remembered a scary, provocative article that might have made John the Baptist proud, A Reconsecration to a Wartime, Not a Peacetime, Lifestyle by Dr. Ralph Winter. If you’ve taken the Perspectives course you’ve probably seen it. Maybe like me, you dodged it or tried to dismiss it.
Basically, Dr. Winter said to live on the minimum amount of money and stuff you need so that you can direct the excess toward the best kingdom use.
What I inadvertently heard was, “The poorest among you is the holiest.” While that may sometimes be the case, it’s not what Winter was advocating. He clarified this in 1983 in a family profile in Missions Frontiers:
“A wartime lifestyle may be more expensive or less expensive than simple,” Winter explained. “If a man is out in a trench and he’s eating K-rations, he’s not using up much money, but a guy who’s flying a fighter plane may be using up $40,000 a month of technology. In other words, during wartime one doesn’t judge according to the same model of lifestyle. What’s important is getting the job done.”Two Key Questions
With John the Baptist on one hand and Ralph Winter on the other, I have a couple of questions. I’m asking them of myself and invite you to consider them as well.1. Do our baptized, repentant lives reflect a “sensitive, compassionate theology of the poor”?
Do you find that in your life, your church? Generally in the Church throughout your country? In the U.S. these issues seem to have taken on partisan shadows in recent (or maybe not so recent) days. But what would it look like to view them less politically and more biblically?
I wonder if there are Christian responses to the poor and marginalized that transcend party affiliation? Surely many believers are doing many amazing things that would make Luke say, “Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking when I wrote that!”
But for others of us, me included, we may need to keep thinking and take the risk of asking God to shape and direct our thinking. We need to pause before slipping into popular tropes and cliches about why things are the way they are and what is and isn’t being done.
To gain some perspective on your personal food situation, just in case John asks you to give some away, ask yourself this question: If you only ate the food currently in your house, without going out to eat or buy more food (except for milk!) how long could you go? The couple from whom I poached this idea went for 147 meals!2. What does it mean to live a wartime lifestyle and who should try to do so?
Second part first: If Winter had his way, every one of us would adopt this practice as soon as we toweled off after baptism!
He suggests in his article (written decades ago) that everyone in his denomination could live on what an average pastor or support-raising missionary makes. Pastors may be doing a little better these days, I don’t know. But what about that? What would that mean for your lifestyle? I wonder what would happen if I floated the idea out to the little church where I serve as associate pastor? Could be I wouldn’t have to preach anymore for a long while!
One of the reasons this is on my mind is that I’ve been scheming with a small band of brothers and sisters about how the remaining 1,600 or so unengaged people groups might get gospel workers on the ground among them. I’ve wondered aloud about the possibility (and wisdom) of hiring people to do it! We hire pastors, don’t we?
How many wartime lifestylers would it take to free up funds to hire 1,600 small teams of missionaries? How cool might that be?!
During some gut-wrenching life circumstances a few years ago, I connected with my long-term hero, Greg Livingstone, in a new and personal way. We’ve stayed in touch and recently embarked on a project that’s been super fun for me. We’re recording a series of short videos in which I ask Greg things I’d like to know about his life, work, leadership, and thinking.
This is pushed forward by the fun of it as well as a two-fold purpose:
- To preserve some cool things Greg thinks and has done in his life.
- To give him a chance, at 82 years old, to unleash his recruiting chops on a new generation of people.
I would flat out love for you to give these a look. Greg and I are not amazing YouTubers (even with my friend Jeremy’s great editing help)! Any advice you’d like to offer in terms of content, production, and distribution would be met with gratitude.
- Ukraine: Global Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace
- Iran: Nine Christian Converts Cleared by Appeal Court
- World: Because They Stayed
- Uganda: Evangelist Beaten, Tied Up to Be Burned for Converting
- World: Fields Are Ripe for Harvest in 2022
Read or share the email edition or scroll down for more.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. I’ve never been good at Lent but each year I hope to better prepare for Easter, and this year I’m reading some devotionals by Steven Laman.
Steven writes for a ministry called Words of Hope. You can read or listen to his story, My Journey, God’s Grace, available through their website. It’s free and I think you’d find it inspiring:
“Born without enough oxygen, Steven Laman has lived with cerebral palsy his whole life. Steven and his family had to learn and adjust to his disability, and a different life than the one they had planned. But Steven’s story is not a story of loss. It’s a story of God’s provision and abundant grace. In this book, Steven tells the funny, touching, and encouraging stories of God’s guidance on the journey of his life.”
Source: 24-7 Prayer, March 1, 2022
We’re joining with a global call from Pope Francis and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to pray and fast for peace in Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 2.
Join us as we seek God’s kingdom of righteousness and peace together.
We’ve created a free downloadable prayer guide that you can use personally, or with a group, to pray. There are also downloadable slides with prayer points for groups, either in person or online.
The many videos, prayer guides, and articles coming out to help us understand and pray for Ukraine are too numerous to include, but if you need a place to start, try Prayercast, and see what various ministries are doing and saying at Mission Network News.
FEBC is one of the ministries posting a stream of videos and stories from within Ukraine. On Monday, they wrote, “Igor and Sergey, who have sent several video updates, are walking the streets of Kyiv and sharing Christ with those they are with. Igor just reported leading 20 teens to Christ today. The Holy Spirit is giving them courage and boldness, and people’s openness to the gospel is unprecedented in this moment of extreme danger.”
You might have missed this story about a certain prayer meeting: The Ukrainian Needed Prayer. The Russian Volunteered (Christianity Today).
Source: Middle East Concern, February 28, 2022
[On February 28] a verdict was issued by Branch 34 of Tehran’s Appeal Court overturning the convictions of nine Christian converts from Rasht.
The nine were initially arrested at their homes over several weeks in January and February 2019. On July 24, 2019, they were each convicted of endangering state security and promoting Zionism and sentenced to five years in prison.
In a surprise development, on November 2, 2021, the Supreme Court ordered a review of their sentences on the basis that promoting Christianity and “Zionist evangelism” in private homes is not an example of “gathering and collusion against internal or external security” as decided in the original verdict. Additionally, this case is not considered to meet the definition of the establishment of groups aiming to disrupt national security as defined by the penal code. Furthermore, according to this legal statement, promoting Christianity and establishing a house church are not considered crimes.
Read the full story. Note some serious charges remain.
Source: Beyond, February 18, 2022
When they arrived in their country of service, Joel and Becky started looking for people who would set aside tradition and focus on God’s Word as their guide for church planting.
In the beginning, very few people were interested to hear what they had to say about God’s vision for his church. During the first four or five years, only one local believer joined them in pursuing a church planting movement.
Then, suddenly, more and more believers joined their team. Their influence grew among local believers who were pursuing evangelism and church planting. Consequently, they were able to train in increasingly larger spheres. Those local believers said they noticed that Joel and Becky stuck around. “Expat (foreign) workers come in and out of our country all the time,” Joel says. “Unsurprisingly, it seems many locals prefer to wait and see who sticks.”
Additionally, while Joel and Becky were proving themselves to be invested long-term, they also gained experience working in local cultures and languages. “We can now serve our local brothers and sisters as trusted servants of God and help them catalyze movements in their own country,” Joel says. “We commonly ask, ‘What’s it going to take to see God’s Kingdom come to these people that God loves?’ Many times the answer is commitment and perseverance.
Up for a deeper dive into fruitful practices related to church planting? Take a look at Michael Cooper’s Reflections on the State of Church Planting in the US (Journal of the Evangelical Missiological Society).
Source: Morning Star News, February 16, 2022
Malingumu Bruhan, 34, returned for his grandfather’s funeral in Muhira village, Nawaikoke, and then accepted his uncles’ request to stay and visit, as they said they had not seen him for a long time, he said. Other visitors had left when Bruhan’s uncle, Ndifakulya Musa, began rebuking him.
“My uncle accused me of embarrassing them by holding Christian evangelistic, open-air meetings and debates with Muslims,” Bruhan told Morning Star News. “He accused me of being an infidel by converting to Christianity, and that Allah will reward them in [paradise] if they kill me.”
As Bruhan [kept] silent, his uncles’ anger grew, he said.
“They started beating me up as others gathered firewood, while another was sent to go for petrol because they wanted to use it to burn me alive.”
As his uncles were waiting for the fuel, another convert from Islam who had accompanied Bruhan to the funeral came looking for him but was told he was nowhere in the vicinity, he said. The friend spied Bruhan’s shoe, which had come off as his uncles dragged him off for slaughter.
“My friend made several phone calls after finding my shoe, and they arrived and started searching for me,” he said. “They found me behind the house about 100 meters away, tied and with firewood around me. They tried calling the police, which scared the attackers, and they fled.”
Having sustained head injuries, Bruhan was taken to a clinic at Bulumba town, then later transferred to another area undisclosed for security reasons.
An evangelist well-known for his public debates with Muslims about Christianity and Islam, Bruhan has survived 11 murder attempts, he said.
Also read about an evangelist from Tanzania who is planting churches in Muslim-majority Zanzibar (International Christian Concern).
Source: Mobile Ministry Forum, February 2022
Two resources are now available to help us gain a big perspective on the current state of the world’s people.
Gordon Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity has released its Status of Global Christianity 2022, which shows that the growth of the world’s Christian population continues to fall behind the overall population growth (but only by one-hundredth of a percentage point). More importantly, the report shows that the vast majority of non-Christians (81.7% of them, or 4.4 billion souls)—do not know any Christians! These people may have no other means to learn about Jesus or His people except through the screens and speakers of their mobile phones.
DataReportal also released its annual authoritative Digital Global Overview Report. There is a lot to chew on in its 300 slides! Did you know that the number of social media users in the world grew by nearly half a billion in 2021 (from 4.2 billion to 4.62 billion)? Take a look through the slide deck for information about the world population (slides 13-18), global/regional/country-level internet use (slides 19-85), social media use (slides 86-214), and mobile phone use (slides 215-236).
In this issue:
- Field Guide: Ten Ways to Help Afghan Refugees
- Conference: Global Perspectives on Risk in Mission
- List: 50 Largest Relief and Development Organizations
- Prayer Guide: 11 Ways to Pray During the Crisis in Ukraine
- Events: Informative Conferences, Classes, and More in March
Read or share the email edition or scroll down or more.
Source: Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies
Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees are arriving in the United States. Here are ten things to consider as you assist them in the resettlement process. And wouldn’t the same points apply for serving refugees outside the US?
You might also be interested in online courses from Zwemer Center exploring topics like understanding the Qur’an, approaches to evangelism, and the world of Muslim women.
Missio Nexus is offering a March 3 webinar about helping Afghan refugees.
Source: Missio Nexus
OnMission is a free, virtual conference designed for those serving or interested in global missions. Whether you are a church missions leader, professor, student, or missionary, this content will be applicable and helpful.
The 2022 event is focused on the topic of risk in missions. More than a dozen speakers will bring a global perspective as they address the topic of risk from their global and contextual perspectives.
The premiere broadcast will take place April 6, 12-3 pm Eastern time. The broadcast will be about three hours in length and can be streamed to your phone, tablet, or computer. If you prefer listening at your own pace, you can get the material on demand. All the content should be posted so you can revisit it or browse it by April 12.
Source: Ministry Watch
Christians have long been on the frontlines of relief and development efforts. So it’s no surprise that among the largest [US-based] relief and development agencies are Christian ministries. Two of them, World Vision and Compassion International, top $1 billion in revenue.
This list should not be interpreted as a list of recommended ministries. They are ranked by total revenue, and not by ministry effectiveness, financial efficiency, or any other measure. A comparison of this year’s list to last year’s list reveals a few differences. Here are a few of them.
- The total revenue of the 50 ministries on this list tops US$8.2 billion.
- Most of the ministries have grown significantly. World vision grew by US$200 million.
- Last year, annual revenue of US$3 million would land you on this list. This year, it took US$5 million in revenue to make it into the top 50.
See the list. It includes links to profiles Ministry Watch has created to evaluate each ministry on a number of fronts, including transparency and efficiency and resulting in a donor confidence score.
Ministry Watch articles do not hesitate to delve into controversy or ask hard questions. You might appreciate a recent conversation with Ed Stetzer about foreign mission strategy and support raising. It made me squirm but also reminded me of some common pitfalls and unintended consequences.
Source: SEND International
This simple guide can help as you pray for other brothers and sisters in Ukraine during this time of uncertainty.
- Ask God to redeem this situation by drawing many people to himself. May Ukrainians and Russians discover that Jesus is the only true source of peace, safety, comfort, truth, and freedom.
- Pray that Ukrainians ultimately would hope not in governments, elections or diplomacy, but in Jesus Christ.
- Ask God to deliver Ukraine from evil. May he have mercy and heal this land. May he give Ukraine peace and the chance to develop as a nation that values truth, justice, and freedom, all rooted in the goodness of God.
- Pray for a culture in which political disagreements don’t lead to hatred or violence.
- The conflict between Ukraine and Russia can spill over into personal conflict within families, especially when family members live on opposite sides of the border and are influenced by different sides of the “information war.” Pray for unity and a love for one another that supersedes the problems between the countries.
- Ask God to bless soldiers’ wives and children with peace and safety while their husbands and fathers are gone.
- Pray for the various world leaders involved in diplomacy over Ukraine.
- Pray that the evangelical church will remain united, even as it faces difficult questions, such as how involved believers ought to be in politics or in armed conflict.
- In the past few years, the Ukrainian evangelical church has become much more passionate about sending its own cross-cultural workers to reach the lost. Pray that this conflict will not dissuade Ukrainians from taking the gospel message to Russia and to other lands.
- Pray for Christians in the military. This is a challenging time; ask God to guide them as their faith is being tested in new ways.
- Fears stemming from the conflict come up frequently in conversation. Pray that missionaries and other believers will have many opportunities to explain to their neighbors and friends the reason for the hope within them, even in this time of trial.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
March 2 to April 10, Seek God for the City (global). An annual prayer campaign coordinated by WayMakers.
March 3, Afghan Arrivals, Big Picture and Great Commission Opportunities (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
March 7-11, ABIDE re-entry debriefing for global workers (Joplin, MO, USA). Provided regularly by TRAIN International. They also offer pre-field training.
March 7 to July 10, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). New online classes begin regularly.
March 8-9, Support Raising Bootcamp (Charlotte, NC, USA). Similar events are held throughout the year in various locations by Support Raising Solutions. Note that SRS is offering one of these workshops online April 4-6.
March 9-11, Standards Introductory Workshop (online). Learn about the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission. Workshops will be offered virtually as well as in person several times in 2022.
March 10, Groups: They Are Everywhere (online). Part of a series of Nugget trainings from Beyond.
March 10, Love Thy [Refugee] Neighbor (online). Part of a training series from AllNations.
March 15 to April 10, Equipping for Cross-Cultural Life and Ministry (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.
March 16-18, IMPACT Conference (online). The annual event from Indo-Malay Partners in Action.
March 17, Simplifying Muslim Outreach (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
March 19, Telling Stories Like Jesus, Part 2 (Lee’s Summit, MO, USA or online). Training event from AllNations.
March 23, The End and Future of the Church-Parachurch Relationship (online). CEO Thought Briefing from Missio Nexus.
March 24, Vision Casting: Looking for Other Disciplemakers (online). Part of a series of Nugget trainings from Beyond.
March 27 to April 1, Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills (Orlando, FL, USA). Workshops are provided regularly in different locations by International Training Partners.
March 28-31, European Member Care Consultation (Budapest, Hungary). Sponsored by Member Care Europe; usually held on an annual basis.
March 29-30, The Mobilized Church: Keys to Unlock Missions Potential (online/various locations). Provided by Sixteen:Fifteen.
March 31, Caring Preventively for Third-Culture Kids (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
March 31 to April 1, Strategic Storytelling for Movements (online). Mentored course by Mission Media U on applying elements of story to your outreach.
View the complete calendar. Corrections and submissions are welcome.
- Pakistan: 17-year-old Boy Leads an Entire Tribe to Jesus
- Uganda: A Christian Apologist Is Beaten Unconscious
- Iran: Mandatory Islamic Re-education Classes
- Algeria: Another Church Closure Threatened
- Philippines: A Musical Instrument Connects Heaven and Earth
Read or share the email edition or scroll down to read stories.
Source: Mission Network News, February 10, 2022
In Pakistan, a 17-year-old boy led his entire tribe to follow Jesus. Rehan worked as a waiter at a roadside restaurant. He often worked 12-hour days, trying to scrape together enough money to feed his family.
One day, a truck driver began visiting the restaurant. Over time, Rehan noticed how well the man, Safdar, treated him and asked him why. Nehemiah with Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) tells the story.
“Rehan said, ‘How is your attitude towards a waiter so gentle? Have you joined some other sect than Islam?’ Safdar gave him an audio Bible. Rehan took it home and began listening. Then Safdar suggested Rehan take off from his work and spend time together to answer his queries and questions at the FMI Discipleship center.”
Rehan realized how much Jesus loves him and he was baptized a couple of months ago. He didn’t stop there though; he gathered his family together and told them as well. His parents were moved by the message but still feared backlash from the tribal leaders. Nehemiah says when someone in Pakistan starts following Jesus they often face persecution from their tribe and family.
Nehemiah says he invited three FMI partners to help him share the gospel with the tribe. “One evening, he gathered all the tribe’s members under one big tent. First, Rehan showed a movie about Jesus. Then an FMI partner shared a 15-minute devotion about new hope in Christ. That day, a 17-year-old-boy led his whole tribe to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Praise God for this tribe of about 60 people, and ask him to strengthen them. Pray the story of Rehan and his tribe would not be an isolated one.
Read the original story or listen to the audio broadcast.
You might also be interested in Looking Back on 30 Years, in which the UK Director for Frontiers considers factors that have led to the movements toward Christ we see today in the Muslim world.
Source: Morning Star News, February 2, 2022
Islamic extremists stopped an evangelist on his way to participate in a debate about Christianity and Islam in Kampala, Uganda, and beat him unconscious, he said.
Charles Kamya, 43, said he was about 300 meters from the open-air debate site in the Bwaise area of Kampala [on January 29] when two men stopped his car.
“I stopped my car only to be ambushed by six other Muslims in Islamic attire who resurfaced from the bush at around midday,” Kamya told Morning Star News from his hospital bed.
He said one of the assailants told him, “You have been terrorizing our religion. Today Allah has called you, and you are going to meet him.”
“Some beat me badly while others cut me with some objects, and I lost a lot of blood as they pulled me out of my car and threw me out,” he said.
A blow to the head with an iron bar left him unconscious for about two hours, he said. A passerby found him in a pool of blood and called police.
“They arrived immediately and saved my life,” Kamya said. “The attackers did not damage my car or take anything inside the car. They only wanted to destroy my life.”
The full story points out this is just the latest in a series of instances of religious persecution in Uganda. Another story from the same source: Former Mosque Leader in Uganda Beaten for Faith in Christ.
Interested in Uganda? The New Humanitarian recently ran an article about conflicts in the Karamoja region.
Source: International Christian Concern, February 4, 2022
Ten Iranian Christian converts previously cleared of all accusations are being forced by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to participate in re-education classes led by Islamic clerics. The ten Christians, eight of whom were cleared in a Dezful court in November of any crime, appeared after being summoned via phone.
The IRGC led the arrest, charges, confiscation of property, and threats against the Christian converts in Dezful. These mandatory Islamic re-education classes directly conflict with the rulings of the Civil and Revolutionary Court of Dezful that said the group “merely converted to a different religion.” The court noted that this apostasy could be punished under Islamic Sharia law but was “not criminalized in the laws of Iran.” The courts also ruled they “didn’t carry out any propaganda against other groups.” The IRGC-mandated classes were presented to the group to “guide them back onto the right path.”
Also from Iran, read Heart4Iran Delivers Hope to Iran’s Next Generation (Heart4Iran and Mission Network News).
Source: Middle East Concern, February 4, 2022
Christians in Algeria request prayer for church leaders in Ait Atteli, a village in Tizi Ouzou, the province in which most Algerian Christians live, as officials have started proceedings to close their church.
The provincial governor filed a case on February 1 against the pastor and his father who owns the land where the church is located. The case is based on a 2006 ordinance regulating non-Muslim worship. No date has been set for the court to hear the case. The church was established in 2006 and joined the EPA (Église Protestante d’Algérie), the legally recognized umbrella of Protestant churches in Algeria, in 2011. It has more than 90 members.
In recent years several churches have been closed under this ordinance, which requires non-Muslim worship to be held only in buildings licensed for that purpose. The licensing commission established under the 2006 ordinance, has yet to issue a single license.
The government has waged a systematic campaign against Protestant churches since November 2017, leaving 16 church buildings closed and at least four other fellowships ordered to cease their activities.
In other news, evangelicals are among those signing the country’s first “National Charter for Peaceful Coexistence” in neighboring Tunisia (Evangelical Focus).
Got a heart to pray for the persecuted? See also five ways you can pray for Chinese Christians during the Olympic Games (Voice of the Martyrs).