Some of the 40 Pakistani Christians acquitted and released after years in prison gather to thank advocates and supporters. Photo via Jubilee Campaign; see story below.
In this edition:
Source: One Mission Society, January 29, 2020
On November 3, 2019, nearly 2,000 Christians from 24 churches in northern Haiti marched to Bois-Caiman, a site dedicated to the devil in 1804, and today, an area rampant with Voodoo practice. They marched the three miles, singing and praying as they went, led by Pastor Lucner, dean of advancement at Emmaus University, to reclaim the area for Jesus.
Many Christians warned Pastor Lucner not to do this, saying it was too dangerous. But Lucner knew God had told him to do it. Many believers assured him of their participation, so they prayed and fasted for the two days prior to the event.
As the group marched, others joined them along the way. When they passed the road that led to the local cemetery, a man with a lot of Voodoo paraphernalia stood nearby. Someone talked to him, and he accepted Jesus as Savior and joined the march.
Pastor Lucner had sent five men ahead to the site to pray and observe the situation. They reported, “There are several people ready to attack anyone who comes.” Yet, no attacks occurred. They had also been warned that if a witch doctor approached to shake hands, Lucner would fall dead. Well, a witch doctor shook his hand several times … when nothing happened, the witch doctor walked away.
Source: Worthy News, January 30, 2020
China is cracking down on Christian weddings and funerals [so] believers are “persecuted even after death” according to one villager in Henan province whose family was forced by the government to hold a secular funeral for his believing father.
New regulations in effect on December 1 in Zheijang province ensure that “clerical personnel are not allowed to participate in funerals,” though a limited number of family members may sing hymns “in a low voice,” and restrictions are becoming even more severe elsewhere.
“The situation is quite adverse, and some believers don’t even dare to accompany the deceased to the graveyard,” said an elder from an official Three-Self Patriotic Movement church. “Pastors can only sneak into believers’ homes for a hurried prayer.”
In the city of Wuhan, the daughter of a woman who had just died was arrested while planning her mother’s funeral and released two days afterwards to ensure she was not able to attend.
Source: Jubilee Campaign, January 30, 2020
It has been a five-year-long ordeal, with lack of food, poor living conditions, and abuse in prison, with two of the 42 suspects dying in custody in 2017. After five years however, the Youhanabad Christians are finally released [after being acquitted by the Lahore Anti-Terrorism Court].
[The] forty Pakistani Christians [have] been on trial for the murder of two men during a violent protest following Easter suicide attacks on two churches in Youhanabad [which left 17 dead and 80 wounded]. Two others, arrested with them, have already died, allegedly due to a lack of access to medical treatment.
Following the  attack, Christians took to the streets to protest. The crowd collectively determined that the two suspects were responsible for the bombings.
While there are many interpretations of the event circulating in the news, one of which stated that Christian protestors killed these two suspects… Witnesses reported that the suspects were actually killed by a Muslim radical to stoke violence.
Regardless, the Punjab Chief Minister filed three First Information Reports which placed collective blame on Christians for the death of Hafiz and Barber and permitted police officials in Lahore to trespass—at random—into the homes of Christians which led to the arrest of the 42 Christian men who they then transferred to prisons where they have remained since 2015 until their release on January 29, 2020.
» See also 40 Pakistani Christians Freed After Almost Five Years in Prison on Trial for “Terrorism” (World Watch Monitor). It reports the acquittal came on the same day well-known Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi published her biography (in French).
Source: International Mission Board, January 28, 2020
Malagasy Baptist leaders invited IMB personnel to participate in an inaugural event: Baptists from Madagascar taking first steps toward sending their own indigenous missionaries. IMB representatives led the group through discussions on topics such as a biblical overview of missions, recognizing those who are called to go, training methods, and facets of support.
Malagasy Baptist church planters know well the extreme hardships of going to the unreached in difficult places. Bush taxis may bounce, lurch and throw passengers against each other for ten long hours to cover only 90 miles. Where the bush taxis can’t go, the church planters pedal hard-seat bikes countless miles. Where bicycles can’t go, they walk rough paths. Some travel four days on foot and pass through dangerous forests rife with criminals to reach their target peoples. Where they cannot walk, they paddle dug-out canoes.
Source: Christian Post, January 31, 2020
Government officials from the United States and several countries will convene in Washington, DC, on the eve of the [February 6] National Prayer Breakfast for the inaugural meeting of the new International Religious Freedom Alliance.
US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback told reporters on Wednesday that the alliance is essentially like an “activist club” of countries that are serious about pushing religious freedom globally.
The alliance was first announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last July and touted by President Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly in September. It is said to be the first-ever alliance of nations devoted to confronting religious persecution around the world.
The alliance comes at a time when most of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedom is limited in some way.
» Full story says at least 17 countries have committed to the alliance.
Source: Open Doors, January 30, 2020
Partners in Bangladesh are asking for prayer following a violent Muslim mob attack on a group of Rohingya believers who left Islam to follow Jesus.
At least six believers were hospitalized. It’s also believed that three Christian men were kidnapped and may be facing torture in captivity. There are also unconfirmed reports that one or more of these men have already been killed for their faith.
On Monday morning, January 27, a mob of hundreds of people attacked believers and looted their homes. Eighteen homes and a house church building were destroyed.
The mob is most likely connected to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Muslim insurgent group that, to date, hasn’t pledged allegiance to any foreign Islamist groups, such as Al-Qaeda or Islamic State.
Our field tells us that while area police have been pressured to investigate and work for the release of the kidnapped Christians [but] say that the Rohingya first need to file a case. However, because Rohingyas are refugees in Bangladesh, they don’t have citizenship—making filing a crime report almost impossible.
In this issue:
- FILM: Free Burma Rangers
- VIDEO SERIES: Off-Road Encounters
- DATA: Status of Global Christianity
- BOOK: Recent Titles
- EVENTS: February Conferences and Training
Source: Lifeway Films and Deidox Films
In 1997 David Eubank, his family, and local partners in Burma (Myanmar) started a unique organization inspired in part by Eubank’s experience in US Special Forces. The Free Burma Rangers come alongside internally displaced people on relief and rescue missions. They minister to the oppressed, document atrocities, and tell their stories. Though they began serving on the front lines of the Burmese civil war, they have also conducted missions in Iraq, Syria, and Sudan. This documentary includes footage from missions in Burma and Iraq as well as interviews with the Eubank family and others.
Viewer discretion is advised due to violent and intense scenes. This is not a Sunday school missionary story and it has some ambiguous elements. It was not easy to watch. I went into it wondering what Jean Johnson, author of We Are Not the Hero, would say.
But the longer we watched it, the more we came to like Dave Eubank and respect how he and his family live out their faith in a war zone. They won us over. They may carry guns (sometimes), but their hearts are for peace and reconciliation. They wrestle with fear and forgiveness. They pray and do what God says. They love, honor, and serve their local partners. And, with humility and sincerity, they inspire viewers to do the same.
The film will be in theaters across the US for two days only on February 24-25. Bring your friends but not young children. If you take a group, I’d recommend you allow some time for discussion and debriefing.
» Interested in theater showings of Christian films with global themes? I know, those are rare! Good news: A docudrama about St. Patrick will be in theaters a few nights in March. A film about mission aviation will come out in August.
Source: Jeannie Marie
In this eight-episode video series, viewers join the (American) Richardson family on an adventure to four countries around the world to discover the truth about Muslims: how they live, what they believe, what they hope for, and what values we share.
Each episode is fun, fast-paced, and 8-10 minutes in length. Jeannie has written new discussion questions and activities to go with them. Subscribers get the material by email once a week. Looks like this is aimed for families with elementary-school aged children. You could also use it in a classroom setting. And the whole thing is free.
Sound a bit familiar? This curriculum was developed in 2014 by Frontiers in collaboration with Sonlight Curriculum before being relaunched here. Jeannie Marie, author of Across the Street and Around the World, has also collected and created many more educational resources now available on her website. Take a look.
Source: Center for the Study of Global Christianity, January 2020
Every year the International Bulletin of Missions Research (IMBR) publishes a snapshot of global Christianity in collaboration with the leaders of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (led by Todd Johnson and Gina Zurlo). This year’s article can be downloaded for free without a subscription and reports some of the major findings of the new 1000-page World Christian Encyclopedia, Third Edition. That is due out March 1; we’ll share more about it later.
This article briefly documents and describes the rise of global Christianity, continuing shifts to the South, the exodus of Christians from the Middle East, the current makeup of the global mission force, and three unexpected trends relating to world religion (that the world is becoming more religious and more religiously diverse although religious liberty is on the decline).
» Read the IMBR article or download the one-page statistical overview. Both include much helpful data and analysis for anyone who teaches or writes about global religion and missions. You can engage with the researchers and the research more deeply by participating in The Future of Religion and Mission conference, March 30 to April 1 event at Gordon-Conwell,
» See also David Joannes’ recent interview with researcher Todd Johnson, which brings the data to life (Mission Pulse podcast).
I wavered too long on which book to read and review for you in this edition. But here are some to consider.
Crossing Cultures: Preparing Strangers for Ministry in Strange Places, by Stephen M. Davis (Wipf and Stock), makes a case that we need to do a better job screening and equipping missionaries, at least the kind of missionaries that do cross-cultural church planting. Can’t disagree with that. This book summarizes what he wishes he’d known before serving as a missionary. Davis also has a new book on the challenges and complexities of urban church planting (in North America).
Don’t Lose Heart: Gospel Hope for the Discouraged Soul, by Jason Meyer (Baker Books), is a “short, giftable” book on scriptural reasons to take heart. It sounds like the sort of thing you might want to put in the hands of an overwhelmed missionary or mission candidate—or read to lift your own spirits.
The Church on Mission: A Biblical Vision for Transformation Among All People, by Craig Ott (Baker Academic), “unpacks the mission statement of the church: to glorify God by multiplying transformational churches among all people.” It’s academic and likely not an easy read but could be helpful and significant for strengthening your missiological foundation.
» Got book suggestions? Respond to this email. They should be (1) related to missions, (2) published within the last year, and (3) likely to interest other Missions Catalyst readers.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
February 2-7, ABIDE re-entry debriefing for global workers (Joplin, MO, USA). Offered regularly by TRAIN International.
February 3-4, Support Raising Bootcamp (Brea, CA, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.
February 6, The Willingness of the Disciple: Counting the Cost (online). Nugget training from Beyond.
February 7-9, Missionfest Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.
February 9-21, Second Language Acquisition Course (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided regularly by the Center for Intercultural Training.
February 10-11, A Consultation on Mission Agency Church Engagement (online). Hosted by Missio Nexus and Wycliffe Bible Translators.
February 13, Proactive Prayer Training: Persevering in Praise (online). Provided by Beyond.
February 13 to March 13, Foundations of Media to Movements (online). Training course from Mission Media U.
February 19 to March 18, Story in Ministry (online). Mentored course by Mission Media U on applying elements of story to your outreach.
February 20-21, Standards Introductory Workshop (Clackamas, OR, USA). Training in the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission; connected to the Mission ConneXion short-term mission event in the same location.
February 20, Frontier People Groups (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
February 21-22, Short-term ConneXion (Clackamas, OR, USA).
February 21-22, Midwest Conference on Missionary Care (Roseville, MN, USA). An annual event.
February 21-23, Missions Fest Alberta (Edmonton, AB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.
February 23-28, Debriefing Retreat (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided regularly by the Center for Intercultural Training.
February 23-29, Business as Mission Course (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Intensive training from YWAM’s BAM Resource Team.
February 24-27, Thrive Retreat (Dubrovnik, Croatia). For North American women serving cross-culturally.
February 24 to March 4, Parenting Third Culture Kids (online). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.
February 24 to March 21, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided regularly by Missionary Training International.
February 26 to April 5, Seek God for the City (global). Annual prayer campaign coordinated by Seek God for the City.
» View complete calendar. Suggestions and submissions welcome.
Recently, Open Doors met with Chinese church leaders so they could listen to each other’s stories and encourage one another during this season of escalating persecution. See story below.
In this issue:
- CHINA: When One Is Arrested, Another Will Pick up the Work
- JAPAN: Poised for Spiritual Awakening
- NIGERIA: Kidnapped Pastor Speaks from Captivity
- MYANMAR: More than 50 Churches Allowed to Reopen
- WORLD: New App Helps Create Global Small Groups
Like what you read? Share with others
Source: Open Doors, January 18, 2020
A sister from Central China shared how the police had shut down all the house churches in the region, warning pastors not to hold any more meetings.
“We are constantly on edge,” she said, “but our faith has grown and we are more determined than ever to see Christians in the area stand strong and not compromise their faith in Jesus. We have started many smaller meetings now, and more and more brothers and sisters are putting their hands up to act as mini house church leaders.
“The situation is tense, but we know God is on the move in spite of the restrictions. We held a regional leaders meeting and agreed that when one of us is arrested, another will pick up the work. We also decided to respond to the police respectfully and in love even if they yell at us or use physical force [in attempts to] make us surrender the names of other believers.”
» Full story includes comments from other Chinese Christian leaders and a video report from Open Doors CEO David Curry.
» Open Doors recently released the 2020 World Watch List Report about the top 50 countries where being a Christian comes with the highest cost and risk. Related stories include the Ten Most Dangerous Places for Christians and an article comparing the causes and results of persecution in the top two, North Korea and Afghanistan.
Source: International Mission Board, January 7, 2020
Prayer strategy leaders in Japan long to see the nation transformed by the hope of Jesus, and they’ve committed to pray daily for the nation. There is excitement and enthusiasm for what they see God doing. Rather than yielding to the darkness, they are invigorated by the light of the gospel. Across Japan, [we] are hearing reports of God doing amazing things that offer hope of what may come:
- A church in the heart of a bustling shopping and social hub in Tokyo has been languishing. This church’s leaders wanted to know why Tokyo Baptist Church was healthy and growing. When they approached the church for answers, God opened the door for the leaders to speak of the importance of standing on the authority of Scripture and yielding to the lordship of Christ. Through ongoing discipleship efforts and prayer, this church could soon be revitalized and play a key role in reaching the city.
- A healthy church near Yokohama has been holding festivals with remarkable results. The festivals allow local residents to meet Japanese Christians and see the joy they have found in Jesus. This has prompted people to visit the church following the festivals to learn more about what they have seen and heard. The pastor of the church is praying for God to reach ten million Japanese people by 2024.
- Japanese people are choosing to listen to and believe the gospel as it is proclaimed during international sporting events, at ongoing festivals, and through personal relationships. Additionally, Japanese business people are learning from Christian business leaders how faith and business can intersect.
Increasing prayer, churches working together, and more people hearing and responding to the gospel through the church’s desire to engage the lost have all been precursors to spiritual awakenings in past generations. The signs point to a growing spiritual awakening in Japan.
» For some perspective on urban Japan, see Every Country Highlighted on This Map Has a Smaller Population Than Tokyo.
Source: Morning Star News, January 21, 2020
The Rev. Lawan Andimi had a treasured life—a loving family, an affectionate congregation, respect from his colleagues.
The kidnapped district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in Michika County, in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, had stated in a video that he trusted in God should he lose his life to Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram. The rebel militants executed the father of eight children on Monday [January 20], the head of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) confirmed [Tuesday, January 21].
Ahmad Salkida, a Muslim journalist who has been a primary means for Boko Haram to release information, reported in a tweet that the group beheaded Pastor Andimi on Monday afternoon.
CAN President Samson Ayokunle today confirmed in a comment to the Nigerian newspaper the Daily Post that Pastor Andimi had been executed.
Pastor Andimi had said in a Boko Haram video released by Salkida on January 5 that he hoped to be reunited with his wife, children, and colleagues.
“If the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God,” he said. “I want all people close and far, colleagues, to be patient. Don’t cry, don’t worry, but thank God for everything.”
Pastor Andimi, who also served as chairman of CAN’s local chapter, was kidnapped on January 2 when Boko Haram attacked two Christian communities in the area.
» Read full story. Heartbreaking. We were ready to publish a report highlighting the pastor’s January 5 statements when we saw the news that he had been killed. Please be in prayer for his family and community.
» Meanwhile, in Iran, a prominent Christian rights activist has disappeared.. This is a great time to pray for Iran (Prayercast).
Source: Barnabas Fund, January 6, 2020
The United Wa State Army (UWSA) in control of the Wa Special Region in Myanmar (Burma), bordering China’s Yunnan province, has allowed at least 50 churches to reopen.
Local church leaders issued a plea for prayer when the China-backed, Communist influenced separatist group closed more than 100 churches in northern Shan State in 2018, demolishing some and banning the construction of new church buildings. At least 200 Christian leaders and workers were “investigated” and detained. All have since been released.
A Bible school was also shut down and 41 of its students arrested and forced into hard labor as military porters.
Local church leaders welcomed the reopenings and reported that most church buildings in the towns of Panghsang, Hopang, Kho Pang and Namphan are now open for worship, leaving only one church and a school building still closed.
[The region] is home to several ethnic groups including Wa, Kachin, Ta’ang, Lahu, Lisu, Kokang, Shan, Chinese, and Burman. Christians form the largest religious group in the region, estimated to be 30 percent of the population.
Source: Mission Network News, January 7, 2020
Small groups typically revolve around local communities and churches, but technology is opening a window of connection.
The program is based on Whatsapp, a free messaging, video, and voice application. Sammy Tippit Ministries provides daily videos, resources, and training for small-group leaders to share. It’s up to the group leader to form and operate the group.
“We’re not providing the technology but we’re taking already existing technology and taking small groups and saying ‘form those groups where you can actually communicate on a daily basis,’” said Founder Sammy Tippit.
He doesn’t see these virtual groups as replacements for in-person small groups. The groups are intended for believers who are separated by distance to supplement traditional weekly in-person gatherings.
Currently, a group of believers in China who are unable to meet physically are using these resources to meet weekly for devotions and prayer.
» Read about another trend affecting global ministry, the migration of Christians and rise of diaspora congregations (The Gospel Coalition).
By Shane Bennett
Yeah, it feels a little cheesy and cliché, but honestly the whole new year thing works for me. Fresh starts feel invigorating and hopeful. Things haven’t been screwed up yet!
Are you up for some new beginnings? I’ve started reading through the Bible and I’m doing a tiny bit of daily journaling. Some really big new stuff is brewing for me too, but you’ll have to read the list below to get to it.
Maybe you have so many plates spinning already that the opposite sounds good to you. Remember, Bob Goff is known to say, “You can quit anything on a Thursday!” If you’re reading this when it lands, you’ve got a little lead time to mitigate the damage of the plate(s) you let clatter to the floor!
If “start something new” works for you, as it does for me, here are some ideas. I’ll try to let you know the ones I’m taking up, as well as the ones that I think you’d be a crazy, faith-filled superhero to try!1. Offer an idea that feels risky.
There’s so much power in, “What if we thought about this…?” Maybe you hang with Francis Chan, Malcolm Gladwell, and Elon Musk (seriously, how cool would it be?) and you never float out an idea that doesn’t get a double eye roll and head shake. But if your tribe is a bit more ordinary, it could be that you are thinking of some things they haven’t already thought of. Yes, you! And maybe God is doling out some chutzpah right now to enable you to suggest, “We could do something really cool. What about this…?” Something for your church, your community, or the world. We won’t complete the Great Commission without some of us somewhere suggesting we do something substantial in a new place.
And if you do get shot down? You won’t be alone. Remember William Carey, for one, famously feels your pain!2. Launch a prayer effort for an unreached people.
If you don’t have a people on your heart, consider those among whom your friends are working or maybe a group your church is involved with. If you find no natural connection, go to this list of the 31 Largest Frontier Peoples. Pick one, start to learn, and gather friends to pray.3. Provide Perspectives.
This could legit change your life. It’s one of the crazy, super-hero options on this list! Sit down over coffee with three intrepid friends. Ask God and each other, “Should we bring Perspectives to our town?!?” It will mean a lot of work and some financial risk and you’ll get stretched in uncomfortable ways. But dang, will you leave a dent. If you started scheming tomorrow evening, you might be able to pull off a class in the fall. I would be delighted to dream with you.4. Nudge your church toward the unreached.
Pastors deal with multiple messes. Truckloads of poo, really. I don’t want us to contribute to that. Nonetheless, you might be able to start the train rolling toward looking at fresh partnerships among unreached peoples. If you could use some help, let’s chat. The cool org I work for, Healing Nations, specializes in helping small to mid-sized churches connect with mission situations. I would love to kick some ideas around with you.
Pioneers, Missions Catalyst’s host organization, would also be a great starting place. And you may know others.5. Initiate a friendship with someone outside of your normal sphere.
This could be a Muslim, a Hindu, a Democrat, a homeless person, a wealthy businesswoman, someone who’s transgendered, or an old white guy. (If you’re reading this and “an old white guy” would be out of your normal sphere, I’d really like to hear from you. I fear the Practical Mobilization tribe is, on the whole, more pale than I’d like.)6. Write a book.
Seriously, you’ve been thinking about it! Do it! Just promise me you’ll pay a little bit to get the text edited and the cover designed by a pro. This one is on my goal list for 2020. It all feels pretty vague so far, but I’m asking God for the necessary direction.7. Learn a lot about something.
I need to implement this one. I have a goal to raise the number of subscribers to the weekly email I write from 2148, where it stands today, to 5007 by the end of the year. I have almost no idea how to do that but am pretty sure that some people do and maybe they’ve written down things I could learn from. If you have some tips or would like to be one of those new subscribers, I’d be honored. Check it out here.8. Go somewhere.
At the risk of bringing the wrath of Greta Thunberg on my head, I urge you to travel. Get out of Dodge. Visit a new neighborhood, a new city or a new country. Take some old friends and make some new ones when you arrive. If you do number five above at the same time, bonus points for you!
I sat next to a couple yesterday who’d been on more than 50 cruises. They said they liked to spend a third of the year on the water. I hesitate to judge them, but this much is true: If they can do that, you might be able to swing eating at a new ethnic restaurant or visiting a refugee center in a nearby city.9. Take care of your soul.
Mission mobilizers tend to be an intrepid, hard-riding lot. We’re willing to overlook a lot for the sake of the cause. Maybe we’re no more soul-starved than the general Christian population, but we may be soul-starved while squawking endlessly about the purposes of God. The problems with this are not lost on me, at least right now, since I’m writing about them. I fear I often overlook or discount them, though. Want to join me in changing that?10. Start a small group.
People need connection, community. Often it takes a catalyst, such as a person who will say, “Buy this book. Come to my house. I’ll make coffee. You bring donuts.” It’s not super complicated. First step could be to pick a good book. You can’t go wrong with either The Magnificent Story or Across the Street and Around the World. Then ask seven buds to read it with you and talk about it over coffee (or a beer if inspired by the Inklings!)Bonus Idea
Get married! OK, odds are good this would be a bad idea for you; you are already married. I really just put it on the list so I could tell you I’m getting married! After some grueling years of pain, brokenness, and regret I’d never anticipated, light has broken on the horizon. By the time you read the March edition of Practical Mobilization, things will have changed considerably for me.Conclusion
Let the rest of the tribe know which of these ideas you plan to implement (and the better ones you’ve come up with on your own!) I can’t really speak for all of us, but I’d love a chance to pray you out of the gate.