Source: One World Missions, Global Great Commission Network
A new video series offers insight on some of today’s burning mission questions from those you might not hear from often. The Global Voices Project gathers mission leaders from around the world to discuss important issues. Three episodes are available so far, each of them available in smaller segments exploring specific questions:
- What is needed most right now in this time of crisis for the Church?
- How will this crisis create shifts in mobilization?
- Is it time to rethink how we do church and missions?
- How can we leverage our greatest assets to see a unified Church?
- How have priorities changed as you face new realities post-COVID?
- How are agencies rethinking their strategies for training and sending?
- How are agencies facilitating member care during this crisis?
- How is funding impacted, both in terms of receiving and sending?
- How important will partnerships be as we move beyond this crisis?
COVID and the Church
- How is the Church being impacted by COVID?
- How is the role of the Church being redefined?
- How do we ensure that we are being the Church in terms of ministry?
- What opportunities do you see emerging for the Church in mission?
» The series has no website or webpage, just a YouTube playlist.
» You might also be interested in listening to a new episode on The Mission Matters podcast on Mission Trends in a Post-COVID world (Missio Nexus and Sixteen:Fifteen) or reading TrendReport 2020, on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of church and mission (Christian Trendwatcher; donation required).
Source: Asia Harvest Ministries
Tibet: The Roof of the World, by Paul Hattaway. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2020. 338 pages.
The China Chronicles series is an ambitious project to document the advance of Christianity in each province of China, decade by decade, from the time the gospel was introduced to the present day. This is the fourth volume.
Tibet is vast—three times the land area of the United Kingdom or the US state of Texas, but with only a small fraction of the population. The gospel first reached Tibet some 1,500 years ago. Though their numbers remain small, more Tibetans follow Christ now than in any time in history.
This book tells the story of the courageous believers God has used to expand his kingdom in Tibetan regions (not just today’s autonomous region). As the first attempt to present an overview of all Christian activity in Tibet throughout history, it begins with accounts of Nestorian, Catholic, and Moravian missions and describes some indigenous efforts as well as the work of foreign missionaries. It’s written more as an inspirational book than an academic one but includes thorough documentation, a bibliography, and appendices.
» Learn more or purchase from Asia Harvest for US$18 or get a Kindle edition from Amazon for US$9.59. You can get a good taste of the book through the Amazon Kindle preview.
» Another new missions book promises thrilling stories and just came out this week. Read Do This for Love: Free Burma Rangers in the Battle of Mosul, by David Eubank with Hosannah Valentine (and let me know what you think). The Kindle edition is US$9.99.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
August 3-7, ABIDE re-entry debriefing for global workers (Joplin, MO, USA). From TRAIN International; also offered October 18-23 and November 8-13.
August 3 to December 6, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). A second online class starts a week later. More traditional, regionally based classes will also be offered virtually and begin in August. Find a class you can go through with others near you and invite a friend.
August 5-7, Support Raising Bootcamp (online). Virtual training from Support Raising Solutions; also offered September 22-24, October 20-22.
August 6, Reaching Nations in the USA Through Sports (online). Webinar provided by Missio Nexus.
August 7-21, ABIDE re-entry debriefing for global workers (online). From TRAIN International; also offered online September 14-18, September 28 to October 2, and December 7-11.
August 9 to September 4, Equipping for Cross-Cultural Life and Ministry (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training; next offered October 4-30.
August 11, Can STM Really Be A Gateway to Long-Term Missions? (online). Webinar from the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.
August 12-13, How to Inspire God’s People for Their Global Destiny (online; two time slots). Webinar on mobilization from GlobalCast Resources and YWAM Frontier Missions.
August 20, A World Without Orphans: Understanding the Movement Away from Orphanages (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
August 31 to September 13, ORIENT pre-field training for global workers (Eminence, MO, USA). From TRAIN International.
» View complete calendar. Submissions and corrections welcome. We will continue to make updates about canceled and postponed events.
A ministry team in West Africa is meeting the needs of truck drivers and sharing scripture with them. See story below (International Mission Board). This edition of News Briefs features stories from Africa.
In this edition:
Source: International Mission Board, June 17, 2020
In West Africa, truck driving is a dangerous and stressful job. Drivers face job insecurity, the threat of being robbed, extortion from corrupt policemen, and cultural and linguistic barriers as they cross through borders taking imports from the coast to landlocked countries farther east.
So when Christians offered to pray for Ahmed one day as he prepared to leave the port and transport his next load, he didn’t mind, even though he was Muslim. As he continued on his route though, he was amazed that the police never harassed him, just as the Christians had prayed.
The next time he saw the believers at the port a few months later, he gathered a group of his friends and went over to them. The last time, the Christians asked him if he’d listen to a story, but he’d been in a hurry to leave. Now, he wanted to know more.
“God answered their prayer,” he told the whole group. “Now, we’re going to listen to their story.”
Each time Ahmed returned to the port, he found the believers and asked to hear another story. As the months passed, he understood his sin and his need for a Savior, and he put his faith in Christ.
» Full story includes more about this strategic and compassionate ministry to truck drivers as well as photos and a video.
» Readers might also be interested in a brief analysis of movements to Christ in Muslim societies (Justin Long).
Source: Jubilee Campaign, July 2020
On July 12 it was announced that the government of Sudan has taken action to restore human rights and religious freedom for its citizens by eliminating discriminatory alcohol restrictions, abolishing apostasy laws, criminalizing female genital mutilation and cutting, and granting women travel rights. Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari stated of the landmark decisions, “we [will] drop all the laws violating the human rights in Sudan.”
These fundamental changes by the Sudanese government were made with the ratification of the Miscellaneous Amendments Act, and its most commendable achievement is the abolition of the discriminatory and problematic portion of the nation’s criminal code Article 126 which, according to Library of Congress, states that “any Muslim who declares publicly that he/she has adopted any religion other than Islam commits the crime of apostasy and is punishable with the death penalty.”
In 2014, BBC News reported on the sentencing death of pregnant Sudanese Christian woman Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, who was told by the presiding judge that she had only three days to renounce Christianity and return to Islam if she wished to be acquitted. She was also sentenced to 100 lashes for marrying a Christian man. After numerous condemnations by international human rights NGOs, Ibrahim was acquitted of her charges and her case was ultimately dropped.
The abolition of Sudan’s apostasy laws under the temporary government ensures that no individual ever again has to go through the accusations, harassment, and tribulations that Meriam had gone through though she committed no crime other than being a devout Christian.
» Also read about a recent update on religious freedom in Yemen, where the news is not so positive (Open Doors via Mission Network News).
Source: Timothy Two Project International, April 22, 2020
We have been trying to connect with all our key pastor friends in Africa. [One] sent this news back to me. This story is the wildest, [most] miraculous story I have heard. This is directly from his mouth and he is a faithful man, so I know that this is true.
This pastor went from Tanzania into Congo to do ministry in March. By the time he returned to the city, he found out that the borders had all closed [due to COVID-19] and he could not return home. He had little money so was not sure what he could do. A Christian family allowed him to sleep in their basement, which was musty and resulted in making him sick. We were worried about him so sent to him $100, which is a decent amount of money there. He said that God used me to “save his life.”
“After receiving that money, I talked to a certain captain of a locally made boat. I gave him that money to help me get back to Tanzania. On Tuesday, the man put me in a sack as luggage. He threw me in a boat [and] the soldiers didn’t notice. The boat left Congo port with other sacks. We traveled from Tuesday to Friday while I was in a sack. On Thursday, the boat got storms because of the wind. On Friday midnight, we reached Lake Tanganyika’s shore. They opened that sack at the top and they threw me in a forest. I got out [and] walked one day and half in a forest, then I reached in Kigoma town. On Saturday night I reached my hometown. I have made the story short, but I faced many dangers that threatened my life. I thank God I’m now in Tanzania.”
“What God did was a miracle. He saved my life. Thank you for contacting me and for allowing God to use you.”
» Read full story and pray for brothers and sisters who continue to both suffer and serve the suffering during this time of shutdowns, shortages, and sickness.
» We read another wild story from East Africa, this one about a man in Ethiopia who was raised from the dead after a Christian prayed for him, resulting in 25 witnesses following Jesus (Great Commission Ministry Ethiopia, a ministry of Cru, via God Reports).
Source: OneWay Ministries (email), July 17, 2020
With the Jesus Film Campaign and other large outreach events on hold, OneWay Africa’s Joshua G. recently began a disciple-making group among the unreached Mamprusi people. The group multiplied rapidly and has now become 20 groups with three generations and counting. “The members are vibrant, growing in their faith and reaching out to Muslims, idol worshipers, and more.” Praise the Lord!
» Also from OneWay Ministries, read Audio Bibles Fuel a Movement to Christ in Ghana.
Source: Asia Harvest Ministries, June 2020
My name is Samuel, and I have served as a pastor among my people since 1993. Long ago, when I went to Bible school, I had my own Bible, but during the war, Burmese soldiers came to our village and we had to run for our lives, leaving our possessions behind. Since that time, I have served the Lord without a Bible.
I later moved, but there wasn’t a single Bible in the whole village. Three years later, the church was able to obtain one Bible, but it fell apart from overuse. The Word of God was so rare and precious that the believers decided no one could touch the Bible except me. It had to remain in the church, and I could not take it home, for fear that I might lose it and they would again be without God’s precious Word.
On January 1, 1999, we started asking the Lord to provide us with our own Bibles. Now, after your workers visited, our hearts are overwhelmed with joy and gratitude! Not only did you provide one Bible for every family in our village, but they were completely free! Hallelujah!
Just one month after your visit, our church members were studying their Bibles every day, and great changes came to our village. People are now full of the joy of the Lord, they have stopped smoking and drinking, and they love one another. When I walk through the village, I hear people reading God’s Word aloud and singing praises. Our meetings have overflowed, and our church building cannot hold everyone. We have been so blessed by God that I feel like we now live in a heavenly village!
» Full article has more testimonies, photos, and background on the Karen.
By Shane Bennett
Are you hanging in there? Barely surviving, or actually thriving? If you’re like me, it may depend on the day. And these are days like we’ve not seen before. I sincerely hope you’re doing okay.
If you live in a land that’s celebrating summer, you may be scrambling to get things done before a vacation. I appreciate you taking some valuable minutes to read this month’s abbreviated Practical Mobilization column.
To remind us we are all in this together, here are seven things I’m a little worried about right now. I know, I know: Worry inversely correlates to faith. It’s like a rocking chair.* And it’s bad for my tummy. I’m not celebrating my worries, just being honest here, and sometimes these things stress me out. I’m also going to tell you ten things I’m really thankful for. (That list is longer, so you won’t think I’m too unspiritual!)Seven Things I Worry About 1. Local Churches
I worry that churches, and the people who attend them, will increasingly only focus on getting by. They’ll feel the need to bunker up and conservatively plan for the worst. The offerings at my church have recently taken a bigger hit than can be attributed to the normal summer slump. What if people are doing their best to give but will need to stop soon in order to just pay for food and housing? Will churches have to make hard decisions to cut staff and curtail ministry?2. Support Levels
What does the income hit many are experiencing mean for workers on support? For me? Will donations begin to dry up? Have they for you?3. Missed Opportunities
I worry that I, that we, will miss some of the unique opportunities that come with these weird days. What bold and intrepid actions am I leaving undone because I’m simply trying to figure out how to make the home situation work and wondering what else might go wrong?4. Mobilization
I fear we’ll lose global outreach momentum. That workers in waiting will get delayed, then distracted, and finally disinterested. That others will return to their passport culture and never go back.5. Vulnerable Places
What’s going to happen with India? Both in terms of health and then economic health in the aftermath of the COVID?6. Kids and Schools
In addition to my five adult children, I’m dad to three young ones now. To be honest, I’m a little worried they won’t go back to school in August! I love them and am learning all kinds of patience through these months. It’s just that they miss their friends and teachers. Yeah, that’s what it is. They really miss school.7. Lessons Unlearned
I’m a little worried that people will ask, “What did God teach you during the lockdown?” and I’ll say, “Hmm, good question. I learned there are a lot of mean people on Facebook and the snarkiness of Shane doesn’t accomplish the righteousness of God.”Ten Things I’m Thankful For 1. This Chance to Connect
I’m thankful part of my job is to write for people like you. It’s really not fair that once a month I get to wrack my brain, put down a few goofy but heartfelt words and dear saints like yourself take valuable time to read it.2. Free, Virtual Events
I’m thankful for the thoughtful people who’ve taken their conferences virtual and made them free! Here are two where I’ll be presenting and one more I am registered to attend:
- New Wilmington Missions Conference, July 17-19
- RESOLVE Virtual Missions Training, July 20-21
- NAAMC 2020, Missions Reimagined, July 9-11
I have access to all kinds of cool and helpful books and tools. I still wonder with a little fear what William Carey may have accomplished with the iPad I use primarily to watch Jack Ryan, Season Two. (Regarding that by the way… the language and violence may not be your taste, but get this: Muslims aren’t the bad guys! That merits some support in my book. Apologies to Venezuelans!)4. Fast Internet
One of the specific tools for which I’m thankful is fast internet. And not just so I can watch Jack Ryan. So many things are easier than they might be. So much information is closer than it used to be. And I can chat with new Muslim friends in far-off places.5. Cross-Cultural Servants Ready to Deploy
I’m thankful for the intrepid people whose hearts had already moved to an unreached people, but whose bodies have been held up by COVID. I spoke to a fully funded friend this morning who’s riding out the virus while dreaming of her new home-to-be in South Asia.6. Brave Friend-Raisers
I’m also thankful for those wild women and men who are raising support during these wacky days. More power to you! May God be honored (even if He’s also amused) by your audacity and bring in those Pesos pronto!7. Health and Healthcare
I’m thankful I’m not sick. And if I contract COVID, I can reasonably hope for access to quality treatment. And if that treatment should prove insufficient to address the issues, there will be morphine to ease my transition to life beyond.8. A God Who’s With Us
I’m grateful God is not surprised by the events facing each of our countries right now. The things our churches and families are dealing with and even the climate of our own souls are not unknown to the God who loves us.9. A God Who’s Got This
I don’t think we have any reason to believe God is taking a COVID holiday. His purposes are progressing as he gives grace to new believers, courage to old ones, and kingdom growth in both expected and surprising places. I’m thankful he invites you and me to dream and scheme with him for the new things that will emerge from the cauldron of these days.10. You, Saints
Finally, I’m thankful for you, happy that we can share this tiny snippet of life. As I write I’m praying God’s blessing on you, your family, and your work. If you’d like to share specifically how I can pray for you, I’d be honored to do so.
* Like a rocking chair: “Keeps you busy, but don’t get you nowhere!”
In this edition: Stories & Statistics
- WORLD: Where Do Missionaries Go?
- BANGLADESH: A Flower Jesus Made Bloom
- PAKISTAN: Couple Appeals Death Sentence for Alleged Blasphemy
- IRAN: Virtual Church Faces New Opposition
- MIDDLE EAST: Confessions of a Bible Smuggler
I’m finding it harder and harder to trust any statistics related to COVID-19. To reignite my confidence in stats, I turned to missiologist Justin Long. See below for his article on the nuances of counting how many missionaries work among the unreached.
Justin also mentioned the new UNHCR report on Forcibly Displaced People (refugees, etc.). It has great infographics to help you wrap your head around the data, and the five-minute video at the top of the page is beautifully done.
All these great resources reminded me of this graphic showing how the Bible is a single, great narrative.
Source: Justin Long, June 3, 2020
I frequently teach Lesson 9 of Perspectives [see lesson summary]. Whenever I do, one feature of the session that is often done, either at the beginning or at the middle break, is the “Worldview Demonstration.” This presentation attempts to show people the world’s population, the breakdown of religions, and how many of the world’s missionaries and the world’s mission money goes to the “more reached” vs. the “less reached.”
Inevitably, I often get asked how old the statistics are, and whether they have been updated. And the answer is, “fairly old” and “sort of.”
It takes a significant amount of time and personal relationships to attempt to gather any sort of credible estimate of missionary numbers per country. Maintaining them over time—that is, looking for trends and ebbs and flows in missionary information—is even more difficult. Fortunately, we have two good, recent sources, both from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. One is the 2010 Atlas of Global Christianity and the other is the latest World Christian Encyclopedia.
In the latest WCE, the total number of missionary workers globally is estimated at 425,000 (this includes all traditions).
But the real question we want to get to is “What percentage of these workers are laboring among the unreached?” And that’s where it gets even stickier… [But] here is what you wanted all along:
Globally: 425,000 missionaries
- Total in World A countries: 11,940 (3%)
- Total in World B countries: 87,000 (20%)
- Total in World C countries: 326,060 (77%)
Based on this we can note 77% of the missionary work force is almost certainly not focused on the unreached. 23% of the workforce is in places where “unreached” and “evangelized” peoples are largely found, but the workforce focused on the really difficult, most unreached peoples is probably not more than 3% of all missionaries.
» Read the short essay with regional breakdowns, definition of terms, and explanation of challenges. While there, check out other research and writing from Justin Long.
Source: Bible League International, June 29, 2020
Prodip’s family first arrived in Bangladesh from India in 1970. Today, he’s 43 years old and lives in a tea garden in eastern Bangladesh with his wife and many other migrants from India. For a long time, Prodip spent his time drinking and doing drugs. He notes, “I spent half my money on alcohol and marijuana. It gave me a high when I was depressed.”
Then, a church planter visited Prodip’s family and shared with them about the Good News of Christ.
At first, Prodip ignored the believer, but the more they spoke, the more he was impressed by the pastor’s humility. He talked to Prodip at length about the gospel and the Bible. He says, “I understood that I was a sinner and needed Jesus to rescue me.”
While the pastor was praying, Prodip became emotional and began crying, which surprised him and his wife since he is not very emotional. “I knew that God had touched me deeply. I felt my life was like a flower that Jesus made bloom.”
[Eventually] Prodip confessed his sins to God as well his wife. Now, their relationship is growing better every day. He no longer drinks or uses drugs and has learned to handle life in a better way. “I can see the look of wonder and disbelief on people’s faces when they interact with me. I’m equally surprised to see myself changed and transformed.”
» Also from Bangladesh, read a fun story about The Bangladeshi MacGyver Turning Trash into Robots (Compassion International).
Source: Christian Freedom International, June 24, 2020
Shafqat Emmanuel and his wife Shagufta Kausar are two more victims of Pakistan’s unjust blasphemy laws [which outlaw insulting Islam and its founder, Mohammed]. The young Christian couple was accused of sending blasphemous texts to a Muslim cleric in 2014. They were sentenced to death and have spent six years in separate prisons waiting for Pakistan’s High Court to hear their case. Their appeal has been repeatedly postponed and is now set for September 2020.
The illiterate couple have four young children. Shagufta was the sole breadwinner of the family since 2004 when her husband Shafqat became paralyzed following an accident that fractured his spinal cord.
The alleged texts were written in English. But neither Shafqat or Shagufta speak or read English. An investigation revealed that the couple was involved in an argument with their accuser months before the blasphemy accusation was made against them.
» Read full story and pray for this couple and their children.
» You might also be interested in learning how Pakistani churches are pulling together in COVID-19-related relief efforts (MENA Collective, via Mission Network News).
Source: Mission Network News, June 19, 2020
Iran’s latest legal changes target virtual churches and online ministries. According to Article18, new amendments to an existing law expand Iranian authorities’ ability to persecute religious minorities.
“Iran’s latest legislative amendment appears to be, in part, a response to internal uprising and political unrest across the country,” says Mike Ansari of Heart4Iran.
“For a long time, Iran has waged war on its minority population and blamed them for its misfortune. Many feel this is a desperate power-act by Iran to secure its longevity and survival.”
Meanwhile, a spiritual revolution is underway in the Islamic republic. “In the last three months, our call center at Mohabat TV has registered an all-time high of 3,000+ monthly decisions of faith from Iranian Muslims who are converting to Christianity,” Ansari says. “This ten-fold increase, compared to the same period in 2019, is a major indication that the Islamic Republic of Iran is losing a cross-section of its Muslim population to Christianity.”
Source: Open Doors, June 23, 2020
“John” arrived at the airport late in the evening. There was only one more hurdle to get through before he was safely with his contacts, secret Christians who were following Jesus in this Middle Eastern country.
He had to make it through the border.
He went to the customs line at about 9:30 pm. His hope was the customs officers wouldn’t ask to see inside John’s suitcase; he hoped they would just wave him through.
That’s not what happened.
My boss’s boss grew up as a missionary kid in a remote jungle. At a recent online staff meeting he told us, “My job is to navigate the canoe as effectively as I can in the currents in which we find ourselves.”
Are you feeling the currents? Trying to stay on mission? Seeking to adapt to crises and calls for change? Or maybe you’re grieving some losses. This month’s resources may help. I hope you know you’re not alone.
In This Issue:
This new book brings together global scholars and practitioners who share and think broadly about the Church’s mission in a world rife with crises. Rather than harmonizing the voices of the contributors to provide general guidelines for generic crisis response, Practicing Hope allows the reader to hear multiple perspectives on complex issues such as sustainability, empowerment, human rights, biblical principles, and the mission of God.
The 12 essays were written for the Evangelical Missiological Society (EMS) before the struggles we’ve faced in 2020, as the introduction acknowledges, but their release now is certainly timely.
» Learn more or purchase the Kindle edition for US$9.99 or less. A paperback edition will come out July 20 and sell for US$14.99.
» Are missiologists your tribe? Consider attending this year’s EMS national conference coming up October 9-10. It will be online and inexpensive. I’m planning to attend.
Are you or someone you know trying to find a mission agency that fits? The Mission App is a new service that allows users to fill out a single initial application and be matched with appropriate agencies based on criteria the user defines. Twenty agencies are participating at this point.
» Learn more. While you’re there, check out their blog with helpful articles for aspiring missionaries.
» Speaking of mission agencies—if you lead one, the publishers of the North American Mission Handbook could use your help. Fill out a questionnaire to have information about your organization included in the next edition.
Source: Global Frontier Missions
Step In is a free, five-week, small-group study designed to provide Christ-centered education and missional exposure to believers of all ages.
- Step One: Discover Your Purpose (God’s heart for his glory)
- Step Two: Develop Your Perspective (the mission of God)
- Step Three: Assess Your Place (the task remaining)
- Step Four: Shift Your Paradigm (the gospel and culture)
- Step Five: Modify Your Position (everyone is a disciple maker)
Each lesson is pithy, practical, and can be taught via Zoom.
Registration required to access materials. Looks like they’re also trying to build up and equip a network of regional facilitators, so you can indicate your interest in that there, too.