Missions Catalyst

Subscribe to Missions Catalyst feedMissions Catalyst
World Missions News, Ideas, and Resources
Updated: 2 hours 27 min ago

SAUDI ARABIA: Hajj Begins Friday

Source: Cry Out Now, August 2019

This is a call for Christians to pray for Muslims as they go on the Hajj.

Since the Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, all Muslims are commanded to perform the Hajj at least once in their lifetime if they are able. The Hajj begins on the eighth day of the twelfth month of Dhul Hijjah in the Islamic calendar. During these days, around three million Muslims from all over the world flock to Mecca to perform sacred acts and follow the steps of Muhammad, their prophet. This year, the Hajj will start on August 9 and last for three or more days.

» Short article from Cry Out also compares Muslim and Christian ideas about forgiveness.

More on praying for Muslims on Hajj:

Watch a new four-minute video from Prayercast. It’s simple and sincere. Want more? Sign up for daily prayer emails August 7-14.

Watch or download the international five-minute video, Hajj Prayer 2019 from Praying through the Arabian Peninsula. Informative. You can also download a prayer guide available in multiple languages.

Visit or follow Arab World Media on Twitter or Facebook. They will be posting updates from seekers in Saudi, the current social climate of the country, an insight into the rites of Hajj, and how you can specifically pray for the men and women seeking God.

Read God at the Hajj, by Shane Bennett.

SOUTHEAST ASIA: The Power of Crickets

Source: Tearfund, July 26, 2019

Chouma lives with her husband and daughter in a small village on the side of a mountain, near the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Chouma became a Christian when a few people from the local church prayed for healing from a sickness she’d had for many years. She was healed instantly and has been attending the church ever since.

However, living as a Christian in this community wasn’t easy. She was verbally abused by her neighbors. On a few occasions, she even had stones thrown at her while she was worshiping.

A few years ago, Tearfund’s local partner started working with churches in the area. Through a series of Bible studies and workshops, they equipped Christians to be agents of positive change in their communities.

The Bible studies sparked something in Chouma. She helped coordinate a number of initiatives in the village, such as a savings group and chicken rearing. [She also] set aside a corner of her house to raise crickets, which are a popular snack in Cambodia. With help from her pastor, Chouma had soon established a profitable cricket farm. Seeing her success, other members of the community started visiting Chouma to learn about the business. Now, 25 families in the village are raising crickets.

But Chouma didn’t stop there. The road to her village had been damaged for a long time—a big problem in such a remote area. Chouma got her church members to pool their resources and buy some cement. The whole community is now united around the road repairs, which are being led by Chouma’s husband.

The village now see the Christians in an entirely different light, and Chouma is hoping that the church will continue to grow.

» Read full story.

UNITED KINGDOM: Felix Ngole Wins Appeal in Freedom of Expression Case

Source: Christian Concern, July 3, 2019

In a landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal has upheld the rights of UK Christians to freely express their faith by handing victory to former student social worker Felix Ngole. Overturning a High Court decision to uphold Felix’s expulsion from Sheffield University, the crucial outcome represents a major development of the law. It is now clear that Christians have the legal right to express biblical views on social media and elsewhere in public without fear for their professional careers.

Felix was expelled in 2016 from his social work course at the University of Sheffield after quoting Bible verses on Facebook that were deemed critical of homosexuality.

In the court hearings, the University argued that Felix had “lacked insight” into the effect of his posts on social media. During his Fitness to Practice hearing, the University had told him that the expression of his Christian views was unacceptable and was effectively told either to renounce his faith or stay silent on pain of losing his career.

However, the Court of Appeal held that it was the university that was “lacking insight” in not understanding a Christian viewpoint.

» Read full story and watch Felix discuss what he did and the implications of his expulsion. Wonder how these cases will play out in the future?

» See also Christian Street Preacher Awarded £2,500 for Wrongful Arrest (The Christian Institute). Oluwole Ilesanmi was accused of hate speech for criticizing Islam while preaching outside a metro station in London and his Bible confiscated by police.

EGYPT: Presidential Committee Legalizes 127 Churches

Source: INcontext International, July 11, 2019

A presidential committee tasked with rectifying the status of unlicensed Christian places of worship, chaired by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, approved on Monday [1 July] legalizing 127 churches and service buildings that used to be operating without permits. This brings to 1,021 the total number of unlicensed Christian places of worship and service buildings that have been granted legal status so far [since 2016]

After 160 years of tight restrictions on building churches in Egypt, these legalizations are not only ground-breaking in legal terms but also revolutionary within a Middle Eastern Christian framework.

» Full story explains why strengthening Egyptian Christian communities is vital for reaching the region and how we can pray. Some of their data comes from an interesting, undated article Minority Report: Christian Persecution in Muslim Majority Countries (Fuller Studio).

» In Egypt Approves 127 Churches, International Christian Concern reports that the government has faced heavy criticism for moving so slowly in this matter, as thousands of churches await legalization. A related article from CBN calls the July 1 decision “sweeping approval” and “a promising start.”

» Also from East Africa, see Revival in the Western Nuba Mountains (Reaching Africa’s Unreached).

CENTRAL ASIA: He Once Smuggled Heroin, Now He Smuggles Bibles

Source: God Reports, July 30, 2019

“Viktor” once smuggled illegal drugs from Tajikistan to the state where he lives in Central Asia.

“He seemed to have natural abilities to covertly network across communities,” according to a report by Open Doors. He was so good he was offered the opportunity to smuggle drugs across the Afghanistan border, which would expand his illicit operation into three countries.

But in 1996, Viktor was caught with nine pounds of heroin and sent to jail. Once incarcerated, he became depressed and suicidal. “I felt empty inside and did not want to live anymore.”

One day Viktor’s cellmate received a package from his mother that contained the Gospel of John. The cellmate offered to let Viktor read it. Viktor didn’t want any part of the book at first. But after 10 nights of poor sleep, he picked up the book and began to peruse it. It didn’t make any sense to him. “‘The Word was first and the Word was God’ made no sense to me… What did it mean? I put it away and stopped reading.”

But then something unusual happened. He had more sleepless nights. Thoroughly exhausted and despairing, he picked up the Bible once more and this time, he couldn’t stop reading.

“I read about eternal life,” Viktor told Open Doors. “Reading about eternal life caught my attention. Thinking about it, I really desired eternal life even more than I desired to be released from jail.”

The more he read the Bible the more he felt God’s presence. He didn’t know how to pray, but he called out to Jesus.

Today, he is the pastor of an underground church in Central Asia. He secretly stores Bibles and other Christian media useful for evangelism in his barn. Viktor marvels at the way God turned his life around. “Please do pray that my testimony and my life can bring many people to Christ, and pray also for my relatives,” he said.

» Read full story.

???? Explainer videos, upcoming events & more ????

In this edition:

  1. VIDEOS: Missionary Explainer Series
  2. ARTICLE: Senior Pastor Perspectives
  3. PODCASTS: Recently Heard
  4. SURVEY: Growing Global Kids
  5. EVENTS: August Conferences and Training

VIDEOS: Missionary Explainer Series

Source: Pioneers USA

Pioneers recently released a series of videos you may find helpful. Each one addresses a mission-related question people may have a hard time asking or struggle to explain to others. The videos have some Pioneers branding, but it’s fairly low-key. Topics:

  • Who are the lost vs. the unreached? (what does “unreached” mean?)
  • What is church planting? (especially cross-culturally?)
  • Who is a missionary? (or are we all missionaries?)
  • Why go with a mission agency? (instead of going without one)
  • Why do I need a sending church? (how goers count on senders)

Know someone with questions like these? Share these videos with them.

» Watch all five videos through the Pioneers USA YouTube playlist or the Facebook page. You can also find them on the Pioneers USA website with links to related content.

» See also the explainer videos from Global Frontier Missions. These are great! I’m told they’ve been updated, too.

ARTICLE: Senior Pastor Perspective

Source: Catalyst Services, July 2019

Are senior pastors too busy to lead their churches in global outreach? In this month’s Postings, two lead pastors describe why missions is a priority for them. They also explain how they ignite vision and serve as the #1 cheerleader for missions without being #1 worker.

At the end of the article, you will find (1) practical ideas for pastors who want to better shepherd their church’s global vision and (2) suggestions for a missions team that wants to strengthen their pastor’s global vision.

» Read the article. It includes links to other resources. Then browse the Postings archives for lots more great content.

SURVEY: Growing Global Kids

Source: Missions Catalyst

There’s still time to complete our survey about helping kids grow in their global vision. We’d love to hear your thoughts on that. Read this article to get your mental wheels turning.

» Take the survey. One respondent will get a $25 Amazon gift card.

Have you subscribed to Muslim Connect, from Missions Catalyst’s own Shane Bennett? This weekly email is written to help people like us understand and connect with Muslims and equip others to do so as well. Just 300 words, it’s practical, pithy, and fun.

If you sign up now, you’ll get a free PDF called, “Ten Simple Ways Normal People Can Be Nice to Muslims. With a Danger Rating for Each!”

» Subscribe to Muslim Connect. See back issues at shanebennett.com.

PODCAST: Recently Heard

Sources: Various

If one of these topics catches your attention, click through to listen. Like what you hear? Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

EVENTS: Conferences, Classes, and Retreats

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

August 2-9, ReBoot Re-entry Program (Calgary, AB, Canada). For returning missionary kids, ages 17-20, transitioning to life in Canada. Held in two locations each summer.

August 5 to December 8, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). Another class will take place August 12 to December 15. Live classes will be launching in many locations throughout the month.

August 10, Reaching Your Hindu Neighbors (King of Prussia, PA, USA). A one-day training where you discover simple ways to share your faith with Hindus via everyday relationships.

August 12-16, Cubs to Lions (Vancouver, BC, Canada). Discipleship for Christians with a Muslim background. From Horizons International. Similar events held worldwide.

August 15, Circle Up! (online). Part of a series of “nugget” trainings for disciplemakers; this one about coaching circles. Provided by Beyond.

August 16-17, One More Conference (Rome, GA, USA). Weekend conference on missions for lay leaders as well as professionals.

August 17, An Introduction to Bible-based Trauma Healing (Clarkston, GA, USA). One-day course from the Trauma Healing Institute.

August 19 to December 6, Christian Engagement with Muslims (online). Course provided by the Lilias Trotter Center, in partnership with Wesley Biblical Seminary.

August 22, Spiritual Direction: A Growing Practice in Missions and Member Care (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

August 26 to September 6, Engaging Islam Institute (Beirut, Lebanon). Training event from Horizons International.

August 28-29, Support Raising Bootcamp (Charlotte, NC, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

August 28, The Sending Triangle: Missionary, Church, Agency (online). Free webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.

August 29, Stewardship of Short-Term Missions with an Emphasis on Discipleship (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

» View the complete calendar. Additions welcome. Want to know more about a specific event? Contact the event organizers.

Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan: God at Work | World News Briefs

In  Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, it sometimes seems all hope that the gospel will penetrate is lost. But God is at work, and the church is growing. See related story below (International Mission Board).

In this edition:

  1. IRAQ, IRAN, AND AFGHANISTAN: God Is at Work
  2. SOUTHEAST ASIA: First Fruits in a Mountain Town
  3. BUDDHIST WORLD: Diverse Pictures of Buddhism
  4. JEWISH WORLD: Jesus, Jews, and the Internet
  5. INDIA: Court Grants Bail to Christians Imprisoned Since 2008

IRAQ, IRAN, AFGHANISTAN: God Is at Work

Source: International Mission Board, July 19, 2019

Iraq: Northern Iraq has appeared in a lot of headlines over the past few years. As ISIS inches its way closer and closer to Iraqi Kurdistan, stability in the region deteriorates. Military checkpoints dot the land and make land travel long and stressful. [Yet] many say the region is more open to the gospel than it has been in a thousand years.

Iran: Forty years ago, the Islamic Revolution swept [Iran]. Since then, many Iranians have come to a place of spiritual openness. They are fed up with Islam and eager for other options, including Eastern religion and New Age philosophies. Within this spirit of exploration, an overwhelming number of Iranians are finding the truth of Jesus Christ and putting their trust in him.

Afghanistan: War has ravaged the country of Afghanistan for over forty years. The constant change of new regimes and power brokers has worn the people down. Yet the church in Afghanistan is growing. In today’s global environment, even the poorest of the poor own a mobile phone. People are accessing Scripture on their phones and coming to faith in Jesus.

» Full story includes links, stories, and prayer points. Encouraging!

» Another thought-provoking IMB article: Staying on Mission: What Missionaries Can Teach Us in Post-Christian America.

SOUTHEAST ASIA: First Fruits in a Mountain Town

Source: Pioneers USA, July 8, 2019

Jay lives in one of Asia’s poorest and least-developed countries. It’s home to more than 100 people groups and further divided by variations in culture and dialect. The gospel does not easily cross such barriers. The church there was weakened when, decades ago, two-thirds of the Christians and most of the trained pastors left after facing government pressure.

But things are starting to change. Poverty and isolation are lessening. The church, though persecuted, is growing. And groups of foreign and local believers focused on church planting are working together and seeing the gospel start to go places it hasn’t gone before.

We’re encouraged to hear what God is doing in Jay, a young man from one of the people groups we’re praying for. A few months ago, Jay decided to become a Christian. Recently, he shared with his family that he is now a follower of Jesus and is planning on being baptized. They responded to this news surprisingly well… in fact, they are open to hearing more about the gospel of Jesus.

Jay is one of the first in his people group to become a believer.

» Read full story.

CUBA: To the Nations

Source: Assembly of God World Missions, July 22, 2019

Missionaries Don and Jacquie recently finished training 300 Cuban global missions workers, 80 of whom were commissioned for worldwide service at Cuba’s Assemblies of God General Council this year.

“Everywhere we go, a vision for missions is being birthed in this nation,” says Don. “Jacquie and I have traveled this island end to end multiple times. There’s not a place we go that we don’t see God awakening a burden for missions. The church is just exploding.”

In the process of training candidates for missions, Don and Jacquie have discovered a wealth of highly skilled Cubans.

“We know chemical engineers, English professors, lawyers, doctors, and more who are called to go to the nations,” they share.

Cuban culture places a high premium on education, and this cultural value is reflected in the church. Cubans’ professional training strategically equips them to reach sensitive contexts.

And for the first in time in over 50 years, Cubans are now allowed to leave the country for up to two years at a time, providing the first official opportunity to release these uniquely gifted and highly equipped Cuban missionaries.

“It’s like God in the last 60 years has just been training a huge missionary force,” Don and Jacquie state.

» Read full story. It also describes a decades-old prophecy of all this.

» Also from Cuba, we read that a religious freedom defender in Cuba has been released after seven days in prison (Christian Solidarity Worldwide).

» Readers may be encouraged to hear that Christianity has continued to grow in Nepal, despite persecution, with more than 8,000 churches established and over a million converts to Christianity since 2008 (Premier).

JEWISH WORLD: Jesus, Jews, and the Internet

Source: Jews for Jesus

[A missionary] who connects with Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) as well as formerly Haredi [men], reports, “A man raised in the Haredi community came to our website and told a volunteer on LiveChat that he had prayed to receive Jesus and wanted to be baptized. His name and contact information were passed on to me. I called John and we had a great conversation.

“John grew up in the Haredi community, but no longer believes in Orthodox Judaism. He described himself as ‘off the derekh,’ a term for ultra-Orthodox Jews who have left the community.

“John met a Christian woman who explained the gospel to him and led him in a prayer of repentance. He then searched online for Jewish people and baptism and found our website.

“At first, we spoke on the phone every few days. When we finally met in person, John described his lifelong search for the truth, including his curiosity about Christianity. He loved the idea of becoming a new creation through faith in Jesus. The topic of baptism was particularly important to him, and when I asked if he’d like to meet and discuss the New Testament together, he agreed.

“In the following weeks and months, John limited our contact to short phone conversations. After a while, he confided his fear that faith in Jesus will alienate him from his family. However, he still wants to stay in touch.

“Around the same time that I reached out to John, Zach contacted us through Facebook. He also grew up practicing ultra-Orthodox Judaism.

“Zach struggles to live up to the standards and expectations of his community. He feels compassion for us because we are Jewish but excluded by his community. He says he also feels excluded.

“We meet in person and between meetings, Zach sends me videos about Judaism. He insists that he isn’t interested in believing as we do yet continues wanting to meet.

Please pray for John and Zach, and for God’s grace to overcome the challenges that would prevent them from following Jesus.

» Read full story.

BUDDHIST WORLD: Diverse Pictures of Buddhism

Source: OMF International, July 2019

Recently OMF International has been highlighting stories showing that Buddhists aren’t all the same. They don’t necessarily believe or behave the way you might expect from a textbook!

Jane, a devout Buddhist in Taiwan, shared what Buddhist means to her without ever mentioning the “noble truths” or the “eightfold way.” Instead she talked about loving her family, the importance of listening to others, respect and treating all people equally.

Japanese Buddhism is hard to define, acknowledges an OMF worker in Japan, though it focuses largely on keeping the traditions of one’s ancestors. Confucianism and Shintoism are also part of the Japanese worldview. “Teasing out the differences between the three is nearly impossible.”

We were surprised to hear the branch of Buddhism they belonged to also teaches salvation by grace,” say other missionaries, also in Japan, with friends who follow Pure Land Buddhism. They grapple with the implications of having similar but different understandings of grace and faith.

» See also OMF’s new infographic about Buddhism. Well done.

INDIA: Court Grants Bail to Christians Imprisoned Since 2008

Source: International Christian Concern, July 24, 2019

India’s Supreme Court has granted bail to Bijaya Sanaseth, one of seven Christian prisoners who were wrongfully charged and convicted of murdering a Hindu priest in 2008. Sanaseth is the second of the seven Christians to be released on bail.

This false accusation triggered months of anti-Christian riots that swept across the Kandhamal District of Odisha. As a result, over 100 Christians were killed, 8,000 homes were burned or looted, 300 churches were destroyed, and 56,000 people were displaced.

As the riots raged, police arrested seven Christian men and wrongfully charged them with the murder of [the Hindu priest]. On little and often contradicting evidence, these seven Christians were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013.

» Read full story and pray for the men still imprisoned.

» See also a story from Delhi about a missionary’s dream, a passage from Ephesians, and an Uber driver who came to faith (God Reports).

Short Summer Survey: Kids for the Kingdom

Kids for the Kingdom: Super Short Summer Survey #2

By Shane Bennett

I spent the past week at a church camp in the bug-infested backwoods of Southern Indiana.

Pity the children who had to listen to me speak ten times! I’m happy to report God showed up in grace and kindness. The mosquitoes may presently dominate the environment (under a ruling junta of horseflies), but as in all arenas, the kingdom of God is taking over.

I listened to these kids talk about their snarled home lives. The fears that plague them. And the problems they see in the world has made me wonder what’s ahead for God’s kingdom, missions, and the Church.

How will kids like my camp buds overcome a lack of stability and abundance of “you don’t matter” messages to find a place in God’s work and world? And how will kids who’ve walked an easier road (though none gets through unscathed) see through a veil of secularism and unfettered tolerance? How will they get past entitlement and privilege to willingly walk a road of challenge and suffering?

The older I get, the smarter is seems to keep building into coming generations, both to invite them into the abundant life Jesus offers and to enlist them in the global work of God.

I see kids finding purpose and passion in avoiding meat and plastic straws. Advocating for causes bring belonging and shared hope. Perhaps it all indicates the presence of God-given desire to matter, to shape the world for good.

Call me mercenary, but I want to tap into it for the good of groups who have never met someone who loves Jesus. I want to see a growing, global band of winsome apostles living lives so shaped by the good news of the kingdom that those they meet eagerly ask, “What do you have? I want it.”

Can you see it?

Do you see it in the kids you teach today? In the ones you kick out of bed and wait up worrying for? The ones who light candles at church? The ones who come to your house for the cookies, but really for the hug they don’t get at home? The ones who rule at Fortnite but can’t seem to string two sentences together?

There is so much latent greatness in our neighborhoods and pews. May God unleash it to his great glory and the blessing of many.

A lot of us have kids. All of us know some.

Can I trouble you to answer five simple questions about mobilizing kids? Your insight would be helpful to me and perhaps many others.

How can we help kids grow global vision?

Please respond to the survey.

Thanks in advance. One participant, randomly chosen, will receive a US$25 Amazon gift certificate.

If you’d like to see the raw answers to last month’s Donor Communication Survey, send me an email. A subscriber named Tim won the US$25 Amazon gift certificate for participating.

Pages