I stumbled on a quiz about Ramadan last week. That first quiz led to a second, which led to me signing up for a super-short online course about Islam fielded by Pew Research. The course consists of four brief daily emails followed by a quiz. I’m 25% of the way through!
But it’s got me wondering. Why was I eager to take the quiz? Then why did I sign up for the course? Did I feel like Muslims are my jam and I would probably nail the quiz? Sure did. Was I embarrassed by my 75% score? Yep. Does the currently fettered state of life afford a little more margin to sharpen the saw? Does for me!
In another attempt to learn and grow, yesterday I spent some (virtual) time with one of my favorite people. Doug Lucas has just released a brief set of videos for his full-time global workers with Team Expansion. In the generosity that characterizes him, Doug is allowing us to peek over his shoulder as he challenges his people to frame the current situation by “Getting Back to the Basics,” “Taking Initiative,” “Communicating Actively,” and “Adapting to the Current Context While Staying True to Our Calling.”
These short talks encouraged and challenged me. I took away both calming assurance as well as actionable challenges. I commend them to you.
What about you? Are you sharpening your saw these days? Kevin Kelly says, “A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier.” Are you learning and growing, turning crazy, home-bound days into higher capacity for what lies ahead?
Maybe you’re barely holding it together. Chasing kids, scrambling for food, and just trying to hold on to your job or keep you head above water. Much grace to you. And thanks for reading this in the midst of that! Please receive what God has for you, rather than taking these musings as more “things you have to do.”
If you do have bandwidth to think, though, let me ask you this. Are there things you’d like to learn about mobilization, Muslims, missions in general? Would you find a mobilization or global outreach quiz compelling? Would you consider taking a short email-based course about a relevant missions topic? How long would be optimal? Would video lessons make it more fun or just longer to slog through?
» I’d love to read your thoughts, wishes and references to existing items like this. Please comment on our website, find us on Facebook or Twitter, or just respond to this email.
The good people at Truth Collective are doing the coolest thing next week: A virtual tea party!
“We need to honor the directives of our authorities, but there’s absolutely no reason we can’t enjoy one another, learn from Jesus, and experience tea-novelties from around the world, all from the comfort of our own slippers! At this tea party we welcome back Noushi, our esteemed TC Fellow from a Muslim background, to discuss the difference between perfect righteousness and relative righteousness and why it could be a pivotal difference between you and your Muslim friend.”
» Sign up for this one. There were still spaces available at the time of writing. Then pray and dream about hosting your own!
Are there 25 of us who would commit to finding, or starting, the team that would go to one of the largest unengaged Muslim groups?
There must be steps and stages on the way to God’s vision of consummation. Different benchmarks, waypoints, and goals. What if the start of the problem were defined as simply as this? “We must get one reproduction-oriented team of people on the ground among each unengaged people group.”
Those teams might come from anywhere. And there would be much more to do after they arrived. But could we make that a starting point? Some of us living among all.
Friends of mine who’ve invested many years in global, Great Commission work among Muslims have developed a researched and tested list of over 500 Muslim people groups they call unengaged. That first team has yet to arrive. In many cases, it’s hard to even find believers who are thinking about moving in with them.
If I’m lucky 1500 people will read this email. Are there 25 of us who would commit to finding, or starting, the team that would go to one of the largest unengaged Muslim groups? Just two dozen of us who would receive grace from God to open the flow of his grace to one of the peoples least impacted by the gospel?
I’ve compiled a subset of my friends’ list. Take a quick look at it and a long gaze at your Father. If he directs, put your name and email beside one of the peoples on the list. Together, we might be able to start the very beginning of what will ultimately be the fullness of God’s Kingdom among some precious people.
Plans to complete the Great Commission are nothing new. Some say there have been over 2600 since Jesus gave the challenge. I’m not presumptuous enough to think this idea is the solution to everything. But I’m feeling very committed to doing what I can do to find “engagers” for these 25 groups.
Here’s the massively over-simplified plan:
- Choose a people: Prayerfully go over the list and put your name and email by one of the peoples. If there’s already a name there, that’s good news. Join them.
- Become a champion: Learn, advocate, visit (virtually or IRL when permitted), become a stake holder.
- Find a cheerleader (I volunteer!): Mentoring, encouragement and connecting will be essential.
- Charge ahead. This assumes you’re operating out of the grace of God and not simply your own ambition. But God does want this done, right?
In the words of NASA’s Gene Kranz, flight director for the ill-fated Apollo 13, “let’s work the problem.”
Thank you for considering this challenge. I’m convinced God wants some of us from somewhere living as ambassadors among every people for whom that’s not currently reality. How wonderful if he were to allow you and me to join him in making that happen.
A ministry in Pakistan has begun preaching the gospel and praising God from the rooftops while their city is on lockdown (BosNews Life).
Source: BosNews Life, April 26, 2020
An evangelical church and mission group has launched rooftop services in Pakistan after authorities banned regular church meetings amid a national lockdown to halt the coronavirus pandemic.
The Global Vision Ministries (GVM) blasted the gospel of Christ through loudspeakers from a rooftop in Faisalabad, the country’s third-largest city, explained its pastor Suneel A. John.
The last three worship services featuring the pastor and a small group of musicians and staff included a sunrise service on Easter Sunday. John added it was “a miracle that police allowed our service on the resurrection day of Jesus Christ. We likely held the first sunrise service on a rooftop in Faisalabad’s history.”
GVM also distributed breakfast to over 650 families living in the area. Separately it has been distributing food packages lasting a month impacting hundreds of families, the pastor stressed.
[This] comes while a growing number of people face starvation as lockdown measures affected impoverished daily wage earners. “Especially Christians suffer. I know of a Christian father who wanted to hang himself because he could no longer provide for his hungry wife and two daughters. We learned about their situation and could help the family.”
Separately, GVM has rescued 100 Christian families, all slaves, in brickyards.
» Full story includes a five-minute video from the sunrise service as well as background on Pastor John, who was delivered from a gang lifestyle after a suicide attempt.
» See also a story about missionaries in Madrid singing a gospel song for their neighbors on Easter Sunday (International Mission Board).
Source: Compassion International, April 23, 2020
Guadencia carefully steps across her brothers’ outstretched legs, weaving her way between family members until she reaches the doorway. Thrusting aside the floral curtain, she pokes her head outside. Fresh air cools her face, tainted by acrid smoke and the eye-watering smell of open drains. Still, it is sweet relief to escape from the stifling tin room her family of seven call home.
Her neighbors are just yards away, separated by only a few sheets of rusting corrugated iron. Around her, thousands of shacks are packed together so tightly they are accessible only by foot. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a steady stream of people walks past.
To curb the growing number of cases of the highly contagious virus, the Kenyan government has instructed citizens to maintain social distance and practice good hygiene. But in Kibera, a slum in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi, physical distancing is a luxury few can afford.
Half of Kibera’s residents are unemployed. The rest work mostly as casual laborers, earning just enough each day to survive. If they don’t go out to work, their family may not eat that day. The pandemic has already left 10-year-old Guadencia’s family on the verge of homelessness.
“It has been a difficult two weeks,” says her mother Dorcas, who works as a cleaner in a Nairobi factory. Her sweet face, usually quick to smile, creases with worry. “We have not been paid this month since the boss had traveled to India and has been unable to come back.”
» See also Are Slums More Vulnerable to the COVID-19 Pandemic? Evidence from Mumbai (Brookings).
Source: Missions Network News, April 21, 2020
A small cluster of about 22 denominations and organizations in Chad have been gathering and praying together for a number of years. They felt the Holy Spirit was laying on their heart that they needed to be the ones to reach these unreached people groups in their own country, David Reeves of unfoldingWord tells MNN.
Surrounded by unreached people groups, Chadian believers feel the Lord calling them to make his name known among their neighbors. However, Reeves explains, they don’t have the resources or training they need to fuel community outreach. That’s when global ministries, including unfoldingWord, came alongside to help.
First, unfoldingWord taught Chadian believers how to use their open-source material to translate 50 Bible stories into the language of a neighboring unreached community. “Our Open Bible Stories project is a set of 50 stories released in Creative Commons,” Reeves explains, “so they’re free to take and translate without having to have additional permissions from us. The stories cover the metanarrative from Genesis to Revelation.”
Chadian believers collaborated with JESUS Film and World Mission to create additional evangelistic materials and load them onto solar-powered devices. Once everything was finished, Chadian church planters and evangelists immediately put the resources to use. In a three-day outreach event, believers shared the gospel with over 8,300 people.
» See also Chad Is Not an Easy Location (SIM USA).
Source: INcontext International, April 22, 2020
Most of this year’s Ramadan celebrations have been canceled or moved online due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Egypt—along with Malaysia, Singapore, and others—has banned all prayer gatherings and encouraged those celebrating to end the daily fasts alone, or only with those in their household. In an effort to keep the community aspect of Ramadan celebrations, many mosques and Islamic groups are holding online prayer services, sermons, and Quranic recitations. Ramadan usually also provides an economic boost for many communities as the feasts lead to increased food sales in local markets. The inability to buy and sell at markets could have a long-term economic effect.
From a Christian perspective, we have seen how the coronavirus outbreak has caused many people to seek answers, and how many of them have joined online Christian services, dramatically increasing [church] attendance. As Muslims are forced in this season to conduct many of their activities in isolation, perhaps they too will search for answers in these uncertain times and find some of these many Christian resources online.
» Read full story with prayer points. INcontext also reports, “We have not seen a single event give birth to so many conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and fake news as we have seen with the coronavirus.” Read their response to some end-time theories related to the virus (and Bill Gates).
» See also In Shadow of Coronavirus, Muslims Face a Ramadan Like Never Before (Reuters).
Source: Go.Serve.Love, March 27, 2020
You planned for so many eventualities in going overseas. What if we can’t raise all our support? What if my dad goes into the hospital? What if we can’t get visas? But it was pretty hard to see COVID coming.
Now maybe you’re wondering if you’ll be able to go at all.
And the gravity of this feels real. You’ve made tremendous personal sacrifices already, upending your life like a junk drawer.
What do all these sacrifices mean if they don’t result in you going? Isn’t the need still as great, or even greater?
» Read more.
» Calling off that mission trip? Tune in to the May 26 webinar You Don’t Have to Go to Give from the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission. It will feature Steve Corbett (of When Helping Hurts) and others.
In this issue:
- CURRICULUM: A Children’s Introduction to Missions
- WEBINARS & PODCASTS: Responding to Coronavirus
- PRAYER: Praying for the Muslim World
- COURSES: Training for Cross-Cultural Ministry
- EVENTS: Happening Online in May
Like what you read? Please share it. Got this from a friend? Subscribe.
Source: Pioneers USA
School’s out or gone online, same with church activities, and play dates and parks are off limits. Looking for something fun you can do as a family? Check out the WorldViews curriculum. You may remember this one. It was designed several years ago in partnership with Sonlight Curriculum, then revised and re-released by Pioneers. The idea is to give kids a global perspective with a biblical foundation and help them learn to share God’s love with people all around the world.
Each WorldViews lesson includes crafts, games, coloring pages, recipes, videos, etc. While activity booklets are still available print-on-demand format, Pioneers decided this was a good time to also give away the curriculum as a download. Check it out.
» Learn more, download materials, and watch short videos teaching kids about world religions. Note that this material is based around the THUMB acronym, describing tribal, Hindu, unreligious, Muslim, and Buddhist people in age-appropriate ways for kids aged 4-7 and 7-10.
» By the way, did you read our recent Missions Catalyst article on things you can do as a family to stay sane and love the world? We’d love to hear if you’ve put any of those ideas to use.
Having a hard time keeping up with the onslaught of new media content now available to instruct, encourage, inspire, or entertain? Sometimes it stays online so you can watch or listen at your own convenience. Consider these offerings from the missions world.
- God, Germs, and Global Missions: Ministering Effectively In the Face of a Pandemic, with David Joannes and Jon Hirst.
- Caring for Missionaries in a Pandemic: Biblical and Practical Insights, with Jeff Jackson.
- Coming up: Keeping the Missions Flame Burning During a Pandemic: God, Germs and Missions Part II (May 14).
From Support Raising Solutions
Wondering about how to adapt your fundraising and ministry partner development strategies during the COVID-19 crisis? SRS did a 7-part series of podcasts on the topic. Each features a different guest and runs about half an hour.
From Missions Pulse
- The Mission Is Not Canceled (and other topics), an interview with Paul Worcester; includes some good outreach tips.
- Is Jesus Enough During a Global Pandemic? (and other topics), an interview with Philip Nation.
- Coming up: Global Missions Amidst a Pandemic: A Live Prayercast (May 1). Looks like this is a partnership with a number of groups.
You probably know this by now, but Ramadan starts this week, and with it, 30 days of prayer for the Muslim world (April 24 to May 23). Several organizations have produced material you can easily download and share with your friends, family, and church even when so many of us are unable to meet face to face. Would one of these strategies work for you?
- Purchase and download PDF booklets from the 30 Days website.
- Subscribe to emails and watch prayer videos from across the Muslim world from Prayercast. See their calendar of topics.
- Sign up for That All May Know, a 30-day prayer series from Frontiers.
- Use the time to focus prayers on one people group, country, or ministry in the Muslim world which God has put on your heart.
» Ramadan and the Eid Al Fitr holiday that follows will sure be different this year. Let’s ask God to use this time to draw many to himself.
Maybe you’re preparing for cross-cultural ministry or are responsible for people who are, and you see how many conferences and training events are being called off or postponed. But many training programs are already built for distance learning. A growing number of mission agencies are offering inexpensive, online training courses through Grow2Serve.
In addition to the kinds of training cross-cultural workers will always need, like culture and language acquisition courses, they have several new ones that seem particularly relevant at this time:
- Sustainable Resilience was developed in partnership with the Center for Intercultural Training. It’s a two-week course that requires a time commitment of nine hours.
- Living on Mission in Times of Crisis is a new course developed in partnership with Multiply. It’s a 12-day course that requires ten hours to complete. Several mission agencies are now offering the course.
» Need training to serve among Muslims? See several options below, and note that The Zwemer Center is offering 50% off non-credit seminar courses for the next 30 days. Check their social media channels for the discount code.
Source: Missions Catalyst Missions Events Calendar
Event organizers canceled or postponed the face-to-face event on our May events calendar, but online events go on and have multiplied. For your convenience, this list includes upcoming events described above.
May 1, Global Missions Amidst a Pandemic: A Live Prayercast (online). YouTube event from Missions Pulse and partners.
May 4 to August 2, Encountering the World of Islam (online). Embracing Muslims with the love of Christ. Classes start several times a year.
May 4 to September 6, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). New classes launch regularly.
May 7, National Day of Prayer (USA). An annual event.
May 12, Leveraging Youth Mission Trips for Long-Term Spiritual Growth (online). Webinar from the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.
May 14, Keeping the Missions Flame Burning During a Pandemic: God, Germs and Missions Part II (online). Webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.
May 14, From City to Shore: Jesus Film Project is Seeking to Equip the Global Church (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
May 18-19, Prayer ConneXion (online). An annual event and ministry of Mission ConneXion, based in Portland, Oregon. Now moved online.
May 20-27, Parenting Third Culture Kids (online). Distance-learning course provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.
May 26 to June 5, Summer Institute on Islam (online). Learn to share your faith effectively with Muslims; intensive course now moved online.
May 28, Pathways for Women in Leadership (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
May 30 to June 1, Together: Making Disciples Among the Nations (online). Annual conference of the Association of Christians Ministering Among International Students (ACMI), now moved online.
May 31, International Day for the Unreached (global). An annual event.
» View complete calendar. Submissions and corrections welcome. We will continue to make updates about canceled and postponed events.
Up for some armchair travel? Join two “philanthropologists” with cameras who explore courage and kindness around the world. The Good Road is a new series from a couple of grown-up missionary kids now airing on PBS in the US.
Source: Baptist News Global, April 6, 2020
A new television series [which premiered] April 6 on PBS promises to introduce viewers to some of the most innovative acts of courage and kindness around the planet.
“The Good Road” is a journey led by philanthropists and adventurers Earl Bridges and Craig Martin who seek out and celebrate individuals whose creative compassion shines in all manner of desperate situations.
A backdrop to the series is their life-long friendship. They first met as students of at the International School of Bangkok.
Their new show was three years in the making and evokes a travel-and-adventure format with its remote, exotic, and sometimes dangerous locations.
Source: Asia Harvest, April 2020
Many people are asking, “Where is God?” during the current crisis. Friends, he is where he always is—ruling over the universe and working his perfect will and plan of salvation, as time marches forward to the end of the present age.
In recent months, house church leaders across China have reported a new openness to the gospel since the virus appeared, and even though meetings are not allowed and the Communist Party has shut down many Christian websites and social media platforms, many thousands of people have placed their trust in the Lord anyway. This week, [one of] our contacts in China wrote:
“More people are realizing that money and possessions will not save them, and many churches have been started through telephone and website evangelism, which has been very effective! Church planting has been going on, and just last week, in a five-day period, we distributed almost 40,000 Bibles to new believers! The more difficult the environment, the more opportunities we have for ministry. Now it is very effective to share the Word of God with non-Christians in China.”
» Full story also includes a look back at China’s pneumonic plague of 1911 (with 100% death rate: 43,942 infections and 43,942 deaths).
» See also Chinese Christians Defy Orders to Shut Down Online Services, Evangelism (Open Doors).
Source: Pioneers USA, April 14, 2020
After their country went into lockdown, a family in Europe saw ministry opportunities more than double. Twice as many kids come to youth group when it’s online. Turns out the youth find it easier to invite friends digitally, rather than in person.
An English conversation group used to meet weekly in person but now meets twice a week by video. “The topics are getting much deeper and more spiritually focused as the current circumstances are causing many to contemplate hope and security,” they add.
In addition, this family reports more conversations with local believers now considering their part in bringing the gospel message and hope of Jesus to the others. And this is not the only place that’s happening. “On the global level, the church has come together digitally on a massive scale to pray and seek God in the midst of the pandemic. We genuinely believe that God is opening the eyes of the world to see its need for a Savior. Jesus. He is the source of all hope and security!”
» Full story describes various ways global ministry is continuing despite lockdowns and closed borders.
» The mobilization team from Pioneers is hosting a virtual prayer event Monday, April 20, at 7pm EST. Hear from Pioneers workers in different parts of the world and participate in guided prayer.
Source: INcontext Ministries, March 25, 2020
On March 20, hundreds of thousands of Indian migrant workers lost their jobs after India instated a 21-day lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This loss of employment has caused the workers to embark on journeys home to their villages—some as far as 650 kilometers—on foot, as all public transportation has been suspended. There are approximately 100 million informal workers in India living and working in large cities to support their families living in remote villages.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed to be taken by surprise at the mass exodus from the cities and has said that the Indian government will provide rent money and food for those affected, but that declaration hasn’t slowed the number of people fleeing the cities—many with no food, medicine, or other necessary resources.
From a Christian perspective, India has a Christian population of around 28 million, making up just over two percent of the total population. Indian church leaders have been working with local government leaders to provide more aid to their communities. Local churches have also been raising funds to deliver food and medicine in areas where the government aid has not been enough. However, this service has financially stretched churches since congregations are not able to gather physically to give their monetary offerings.
» See also Prayer Emphasis for Sikhs, Prepare to Pray: April 12-16 and grab the free downloadable prayer guide (IMB).
» Read how churches in Russia and the former Soviet states are responding to the COVID-19 crisis with prayer and giving (Slavic Gospel Association).