A Hindu worshiper lights candles to gain blessing from Hindu gods at a temple in Nepal (International Mission Board). See IMB story below.
- USA: Missions Versus Halloween Pet Costumes
- WORLD: I’m a Hindu, and This Is What I Believed
- ALGERIA: Church Growth Despite Adversity
- INDONESIA: Peace Under Fire
- NORTH KOREA: A Radical, Dangerous Life
Source: Justin Long, October 18, 2018
Editor’s note: Have you heard it said that Americans spend less money on missions than they do on Halloween costumes for their pets? Justin Long gives us the data.
It’s that time of year again—time for a review of what we spend on Halloween vs. foreign missions. We spend a lot on dog food, and it’s sometimes compared to what we spend on missions (rightly or wrongly). Globally, [Christians] spend about US$48 billion per year on missions (CSGC figure). I suspect that the US, being the largest sender of missionaries, spends the greatest percentage of that amount.
Variously, we estimate about 1% of that amount is spent on the unreached (or about US$480 million, or better phrased as half a billion dollars). Some portion of that is obviously donated by Americans, but we don’t know precisely how much. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering alone was US$142 million (2017-18).
Americans will, on the other hand, spend about US$480 million on Halloween costumes for their pets (new 2018 figure). So it does seem that we could legitimately say Americans spend more on Halloween costumes for their pets than they give to foreign missions, for whatever saying that is worth.
Source: International Mission Board, October 19, 2018
Editor’s Note: Author Sai Anand is a neuroscientist from India. He studies how the brain works and uses innovative approaches to share the gospel and speak intelligently about God’s design of the human body and brain.
During college I heard about true liberation offered from the true God: Jesus Christ. He has changed my life and beliefs about everything. This, though, is what I used to believe as a Hindu.
It’s difficult to fix a number to how many gods there are in the Hindu faith—the highest estimate is 333 million. The gods have different characteristics and abilities, so Hindus will pray to different gods for different requests. The concepts of omniscience or omnipresence aren’t attributed to Hindu gods, so Hindus don’t know whether the gods or the particular god they’re appealing to, recognize or acknowledge their sacrifices.
Worship, most of the time, means sacrifices to appease the anger of the gods, who are known for lashing out against sin. They will punish you if you do something wrong. The inevitability that you’ll do something that angers a god is overwhelming.
Hindus visit local temples to make sacrifices, give offerings, pray, light incense, and meditate. Worship can also be performed at shrines in the home or along the road. For Hindus, the morning rituals usually include self-purification and prayers to the sun. Many Hindus will also visit the temple in the morning. But they can’t go to the gods whenever they want; the temple isn’t open at all hours of the day.
Hindus believe in the unceasing cycle of life, death, and reincarnation. Your karma—the result of your actions, good or bad—determines how you will be reincarnated in your next life.
There isn’t a way to know if you’ll be reincarnated to a better life or whether what you’ve done is deserving of hell. There is a general belief in a “hell” where you are punished, though there are believed to be many different hells.
» Full article has great pictures and includes advice about what to keep in mind when sharing the gospel with a Hindu.
Source: Sat-7, October 3, 2018
Like many Christian leaders in Algeria, Samia and Salah have witnessed amazing church growth in recent years. “Every three months, the church holds baptisms, sometimes for more than 100 people. In June, 67 people were baptized,” says Salah. But as political tensions have increased, churches have been subject to greater interference from governmental and local authorities.
“They refuse to grant permission for churches to operate, and then they close them down because they don’t have official permission,” Salah explains.
Eleven churches have been closed, including Salah and Samia’s in Aïn Turk, near Oran. It was shut down for seven months before thankfully reopening in June. Undeterred, Salah simply says, “The more problems the Church faces, the stronger it grows.”
» Also read another story from Algeria, this one about a Christian husband on trial for evangelizing his wife (Morning Star News).
Source: Partners International, October 18, 2018
I was panicking, and my heart beat fast when the village chief and his aides came to our house. I didn’t even dare to meet them. My husband opened the door and invited them in. Without saying a greeting, the village chief hurriedly asked my husband, “What have you done to make Yaha change his religion?”
Apparently, the villagers learned that Yaha had come to believe in Jesus and they could not accept that fact. The villagers were angry at Yaha’s decision, so they agreed to expel him from the village. Yaha’s extended family also rejected him because of his new belief, including the village chief who has kinship relationship with him.
My husband replied, “That was Yaha’s own decision sir; I did nothing to force him.”
Hearing my husband’s explanation, the village chief warned us as a family not to do anything to influence the villagers to change their beliefs.
The incident that afternoon made me afraid. Worry crept into my heart. I began to fear that later the villagers will reject and threaten us because we are Christians. In my moment of fear, God strengthened my heart through his Word. The Word of God says in Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful!” When I received the Word my heart and mind began to calm down. I was so grateful that God helped me.
My heart was strengthened again and that night I was able to sleep well. God the Holy Spirit gave me great peace and tranquility so that in the midst of the problem, I could remain strong in him. God really cares and is always ready to help and reaffirm his calling for me to reach out to those who do not know the Lord Jesus yet. Blessed be the Lord.
» Readers might be interested in a report from another Indonesian Christian, a Christian commercial pilot who felt God led him to speed his departure from Palu, thus saving 140 passengers as the earthquake and tsunami devastated the area. Remarkable.
Source: Open Doors, October 17, 2018
In 1997, in the midst of a great famine in North Korea, Hea-Woo’s daughter in her mid-twenties starved to death in her own home. Hae-Woo’s husband escaped to China. He found God… but sadly he was caught by the secret police and six months later died in a North Korean prison camp. Hea-Woo said, “I was shocked to hear that my husband had become a Christian but instinctively I knew he had found the truth.”
It wasn’t too long after this that Hea-Woo herself escaped to China and became a Christian through a series of events similar to those that had influenced her husband’s journey to faith. She was then caught by the secret police, repatriated to North Korea, and placed in a prison camp.
In one of the darkest places on earth, Hea-Woo chose to do something so radical, and so dangerous, but so Christ-like. In this prison, God gave her a heart to tell her fellow prisoners about Jesus. And so, right there in the middle of a North Korean labor camp, a secret fellowship church began.
In her words: “The Bible verses that I’d recall from memory gave the others hope. They also say the Spirit at work in me. I stood out among the other prisoners because I helped them. Sometimes I shared my rice with the sick. Occasionally I washed their clothes, too.
“God used me to lead five people to faith. I tried to teach them the little I knew about Jesus. I didn’t have access to a Bible in the camp. But on Sundays and at Christmas, we met together out of the view of the guards. Usually, that was in the toilet. There we held a short service. I taught them the Bible verses and songs that I knew. We sang almost inaudibly so that no one would hear us.”
It’s believers like Hea-Woo who suffer persecution for their faith that brings much-need on real discipleship. On what it means to obediently, selflessly and courageously follow Jesus.
» Read more.
» See also another story from East Asia, Imprisoned Pastors in Myanmar Released on Condition They Stop Praying in Church.
Source: William Carey Library
Margins of Islam: Ministry in Diverse Muslim Contexts, ed. Gene Daniels and Warrick Farrah. William Carey Library, 2018. 240 pages.
If you’ve ever thought, “I know more about ‘Islam’ than this Muslim in front of me does,” you may have discovered for yourself the diversity of belief and practice in the Muslim world… which may not line up with what you had read, heard, or assumed.
In Margins of Islam, 16 thoughtful cross-cultural workers take us on a tour through a wide variety of Muslim communities.
These including contexts shaped by Sufism, animism, urbanization, colonialism, secularism, and nationalism and among North African Berbers, nominally Muslim Bosnians, Chinese Muslim youth, and Russified Central Asians as well as the Muslim communities in the UK, France, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, and elsewhere. Each author describes the historical and cultural factors shaping Muslims in that specific context and draws conclusions for ministry that may also apply in communities affected by the same dynamics.
Since the book is both academic and practical, you can use it for your own teaching, writing, or research and come away with things to think about, ask about, or explore in your relationships with Muslims, as well as finding clues on where to learn more.
Source: InterVarsity Press
Short-Term Missions Workbook: From Mission Tourists to Global Citizens (revised and expanded), by Tim Dearborn. IVP Books: October 2018. 144 pages.
Looking for a tool to train a team for a mission trip? This helpful classic may be just what you need. It includes Bible studies, cross-cultural training helps, discussion questions, cultural simulation activities, and a leader’s guide.The content of this new edition closely follows that of the 2003 edition but has been updated throughout. New chapters focus on on facing risks, fear, and suffering and making the most of the trip after returning home. I recommend it highly.
Two things you should know, though:
- Readers are assumed to be Americans traveling to other countries, but the workbook can also be used with teams serving cross-culturally in the US. I don’t think it would work very well for self-study apart from a team.
- Participants are also encouraged to read Beyond Duty: a Passion for Christ, a Heart for Missions (from the same author and publisher and revised in 2013). References are made to it throughout. But the two books can also be used separately.
- The author suggests teams meet weekly for nine sessions, as well as twice following the trip (using video conferencing if necessary).
» Need something simpler or more flexible? Try the bestselling Before You Pack Your Bag, Prepare Your Heart, by Cindy Judge.
Source: Global Missions Podcast
The Global Missions Podcast, out of Canada, has recently launched a new season. In the October 2 episode, Marv Newell of Missio Nexus unpacks three big trends impacting missions today, with practical ways that churches and mission agencies can respond to these realities. Nothing we haven’t heard before, but I’m not sure we’ve adjusted our approaches enough in light of these factors.
» The Taking Route Podcast, a fun one for women living cross-culturally, has also launched a new season you or someone you know might enjoy.
Source: Catalyst Services
Often orphanage ministry is one of a church’s most-popular global missions efforts because there is such an emotional attachment to needy children. Yet disturbing facts about the orphanage model, especially the impact of Western short-term ministries in majority world orphanages, are causing many churches to rethink their strategy for orphan ministry abroad.
» Full article includes case studies, best practices, and more. You can read it online or download as an eight-page PDF.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
See the online calendar for links.
October 18, Stewarding the Purpose Inside Your People (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
October 11-12, Support Raising Bootcamp (Rogers, AR, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.
October 18-20, B4T Expo (Kansas City, MO, USA). Business for transformation. Sponsored by OPEN USA (formerly NexusB4T).
October 19-20, Missions Fest Seattle (Bellevue, WA, USA). Free annual community missions event.
October 19-20, MissionFest Toronto (Milton, ON, Canada). Free annual community missions event.
October 19-20, Check-IT-Out Fall Conference (Charlotte, NC, USA). For IT and software professionals and students on technology in missions/translation.
October 21-26, ABIDE (Joplin, MO, USA). Debriefing and reentry help for returning missionaries.
October 22 to November 17, COMPASS Prefield Training (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Provided by Missionary Training International multiple times a year.
October 27, Heart for Muslims conference (New York, NY, USA).
October 28 to November 11, 15 Days of Prayer for the Hindu World (global).
October 30 to November 27, Using Mobile Phones in Missions (online). Mentored course to leverage ministry outreach using phones. Provided by Mission Media U.
November 1, The New Normal for Mission in China (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
November 1-2, Finishing the Task through Children (Carlsbad, CA, USA). Gathering sponsored by Missio Nexus and Kids Around the World.
November 1-3, Christian Community Development Association (Chicago, IL, USA). An annual event.
November 1-3, Crescent Project National Conference (Columbus, OH, USA).
November 1-4, GO Equipped Tentmaking Course (Velbert, Germany).
November 4-30, Mobilizer Equipping School (Chiang Mai, Thailand). Provided by SVM2.
November 5 to March 17, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online).
November 7, The Missionary Pipeline (online). Free webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.
November 7-11, GO Equipped Tentmaking Course (Ceski Tesin, Czech Republic).
November 8, The Place of Orality in Church Planting (online).
November 8-10, Global Missions Health Conference (Louisville, KY, USA). Annual event focused on medical missions.
November 14-15, Standards Introductory Workshop (Cincinnati, OH, USA). Presented by Standards of Excellence in Short-term Missions.
November 15, Insights from Respected Women in God’s Mission (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
November 15-17, GO Equipped Tentmaking Course (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Hosted by Tent Brazil.
November 15-18, Mental Health and Missions Conference (Angola, IN, USA).
November 15-18, The International Conference on Missions (Cincinnati, OH, USA).
November 27-28, Support Raising Bootcamp (Colorado Springs, CO, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.
» View the complete calendar. Please let us know about mistakes or omissions. For more details, contact the event organizers.
In this issue:
- NIGERIA: Churches Claim Jesus as Path to Prosperity
- WORLD: Addressing Secularization
- WORLD: Do You Know the Basics of Animism?
- PAKISTAN: World Awaits Asia Bibi Verdict
- NORTH KOREA: Five Surprising Facts
This week’s stories explore worldviews and worldview clashes. Need a refresher on worldviews and religions? Check out a series of short videos from Pioneers made for young folks but great for adults, too. (You might want to buy the accompanying curricula.)
Source: Mission Network News, October 4, 2018
A recent article by [German new source] Deutsche Welle (DW) said megachurches in Nigeria are making money off believers and exploiting their faith by doing so.
“Within the Christian community, the Pentecostal denomination has really gotten a lot of traction… in some cases, that’s a great thing, and in other cases, some of their doctrines that are being taught… particularly about prosperity, is quite honestly, hindering the Church,” World Mission’s Greg Kelley says.
An article by [Nigerian news source] Punch in July reported that out of the 193.3 million people in the country, 152 million live off less than $2 a day. As people have become desperate to rise out of poverty, many have looked to churches and seen their ticket to prosperity.
Kelley says he believes God does bless his people financially and in every area of their lives, but “when the emphasis is upon materialism, we have a real problem, and unfortunately, that’s what’s going on in a segment within the Church in Nigeria. This emphasis on wealth and materialism is really debilitating the ability of the Church to gain the kind of momentum it needs and the kind of depth it needs.”
Instead of putting the focus on worshiping Jesus, Kelley says, the focus of these churches has turned to how a person can get wealthy. This shift in focus is not only affecting believers and the Church, but it’s tainting opportunities for ministry to others, specifically to Muslims.
» Read more.
» Listen to Conrad Mbewe: Combating Prosperity Teaching in Africa (The Missions Podcast, ABWE International). Jump to the 10-minute mark to hear the conversation about Africa. From The Africa Report, see also Spiritual Awakenings (how young, hip, and educated Africans are finding new meaning in the teachings of traditional religions).
Source: International Mission Board, September 21, 2018
Animists believe all life is spirit as opposed to matter. Humans have souls, as do animals, insects, plants, bodies of water, rocks, mountains, weather systems, and so on. All are both somewhat good and somewhat evil, but the relevant characteristic is power, not morality.
Souls—also referred to as spirits—are living beings with volition, moods, and the capacity to help or wreak havoc as they are wooed or offended. Spirits that do not inhabit a living being may exist in the form of a god, a personal force, or a ghost.
Animists believe earthly events have spiritual causes. Spirits influence the success or disaster of embodied human beings. Many spirits are easily offended and vindictive. Others feel threatened and defend themselves by harming humans. Upset spirits knock life off balance, causing trouble ranging from headaches to hurricanes.
For this reason, humans show respect to the spirits through ritual, custom, and offerings. Placating spirits restores balance and yields blessing. If cultivated, spirits can be powerful allies against malevolent beings.
It is true that animistic orientation is ancient—the oldest way of seeing the world since Adam’s walk with God. It has held the human imagination through time and remains fresh, renewing itself not only in isolated tribes but also among neopagan youth in the West.
» Full story includes a video, examples, and a biblical response. Looks like IMB is doing a whole series on world religions.
Source: Lausanne Global Initiative, September 2018
The Lausanne Global Secularization Initiative addresses the increasing secularization of society around the world, a trend closely tied to the globalization of culture, especially among urban youth.
The emerging Global Youth Culture, connected by consumerism, social media, and the entertainment industry, forms the largest global culture ever to exist. It spans the globe, embracing the same values, listening to the same music, subscribing to the same YouTube channels, and following the same influencers on social media.
This global culture is largely influenced by one predominant worldview—secular humanism—which affirms that God is irrelevant and man is at the center. In this relativistic culture, we are god and consumerism is our religion. This is a generation that does not look to the Church for answers but believes it to be a dead and empty tradition of the past. Either there is no God or, if he exists, he doesn’t interfere with our lives.
The Global Youth Culture presents a unique challenge to missions worldwide because of the large cultural gap that exists between the Church and secularized youth in society. This demographic is not limited to post-Christian regions like Europe or the USA. It is impacting cultures in urban centers of every region of the world, including the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
» Read more.
» Of course some secularizing societies are also experiencing renewal through immigration. See The Unexpected Trend Reviving Canadian Christianity (The Gospel Coalition).
This week Supreme Court judges in Pakistan delayed ruling on the final appeal of Asia Bibi who has been on the country’s death row since 2009 on charges of blasphemy. The justices also warned media about commenting on or discussing the case until their detailed verdict is released, though they set no date for its release.
See an article from Mission Network News, as well as two sources it cites, a story from Pakistan source DAWN News and a description of how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are used to persecute Christians (Forgotten Missionaries International).
Readers may also be interested in an update on another high-profile religious liberty case we’ve followed. World Watch Monitor reports that Andrew Brunson’s legal appeal has been sent to Turkey’s highest court.
Thanks for continuing to pray for these Christians and those who persecute them as well as their countries and communities. Don’t forget, it’s almost that time of year again: International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is Sunday, November 4. Voice of the Martyrs is distributing an IDOP video highlighting Christians in Pakistan. See below.
Source: Open Doors, October 8, 2018
North Korea is famously a difficult place for Christians to live and worship openly. The country has been No. 1 on Open Doors’ World Watch List—the annual list of the places in the world where it’s hardest to follow Jesus—for more than a decade. Tens of thousands of Christians are imprisoned or under arrest for their faith. And yet, that’s not the full story. Christianity and North Korea have a long relationship! So, here are five surprising facts about Christianity in North Korea and how this tightly controlled Communist nation has been impacted by the Christian faith.
» Read more or share this article with your friends.
By Shane Bennett
My friend and colleague Jeannie Marie knocked it out of the park with her wise, warm, and winsome book, Across the Street and Around the World: Following Jesus to the Nations in Your Neighborhood… and Beyond. With engaging stories and practical insight, she points the way for normal people to make extraordinary contributions to God’s kingdom.
I am loving this book and expect it to become a significant tool in the mobilization toolbox. Jeannie graciously answered some questions for us about the book and her life and offered some suggestions for us as mobilizers. Read her thoughts, then grab a copy of her book.Q: Who do you hope will read Across the Street and Around the World?
- Ordinary believers who know they want to make a difference in the world, but just don’t know where to start.
- Small groups who want to practice reaching out to internationals right in their city and need practical steps to know how to do it well.
- Teams going overseas on short-term trips who need a good, comprehensive training tool that lays it all out in one place.
- Pastors who hope to inspire their people to fall in love with God’s heart for the nations and need a simple resource anyone could read.
- Jesus-following college students, millennials, and retirees trying to figure out if God could send them to the ends of the earth.
I’d like to do for discipleship and global church-planting conversations what When Helping Hurts did for poverty alleviation. That is, to help regular people with passion not mess it up too much—and do it well— because now they get the whole picture. And to see ordinary people with a global spark know how to light it up by taking a first step, then keep it going.
I’d love to see people trying things they’ve never tried before, right where they live, like having a refugee family over for dinner. And then a few of those people finding themselves on the other side of the world, speaking Urdu, eating chicken liver on a stick, talking to a rickshaw driver about Jesus.
And the visionary part of me? I imagine that Revelations 5:9 scene with all the peoples from every nation, tribe, and language worshipping the Lamb. I’d like to rub shoulders with the Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists who came to faith in Jesus Christ because somebody picked up this book and did it.Q: What is your favorite part of the book?
I smile to myself when I re-read chapter ten. I like stories about people changing. I remember a short trip to Morocco in which I was wrapped in a colorful sheet they call a mulafa in the desert, returning to the white-picket fence suburbs to wrestle with such different worlds, then ended up living with my family in a bright green house in the middle of ten million Muslims in India. That was fun to write.Q: What was most challenging thing to write about in this book?
How to inspire people to identify and surrender their cultural expectations about things like prayer, church, and even their own religious labels so they can step into someone else’s space with just Jesus on their arm and not a lot of other expectations. It’s tough to describe such a radical theological shift gently without offending traditions people hold dear—and at the same time not use a lot of big, theological words that lose people’s interest.Q: In your opinion, what five things that will make the biggest difference in reaching the world?
- People who spend so much time with Jesus, they know his voice and do what he says.
- People who pray. For real. For hours, because they enjoy it and see God doing things.
- People who take thousands of small steps in an intentional direction towards the pain, the poverty, and the people with least access to Jesus.
- People who plant themselves in strategic places surrounded by millions who don’t have access to Jesus. They learn the language, cry the tears, and bleed the blood, until they can train up local people to reach their own.
- People who figure out strategies such as how to foster movements in urban poor cities, how to mine the potential of social media and cell phones, and how to adapt our good news messages to each new generation.
Mobilizers who only talk about their specific group, trip, or organization without customizing the message (or even totally dropping it) based on who is in front of them feel stale to me. We could listen to people first and find out their passions, interests, and experience. Then, if it makes sense, connect them to a story we could imagine them living.
Here’s a fun way to make the conversation all about them. We can ask them to take this quick quiz on their phone: What Kind of Global Goer Are You? Then, if they’re a Bleeding Heart, a Strategic Thinker or an Adventurous Traveler (see chapter ten!) we can tailor our message and invitation to fit the way they’re wired.Q: Any tips for getting our pastors to read Across the Street and Around the World?
Put a copy of the book in their hands and tell them it will get their people out of the church seats and into the streets, right where they live. Tell them it’ll guide ordinary believers to take a few first steps, starting soon and starting small right where they live.
As their people start putting a face that’s a friend on the big word “nations,” they’ll start going into the city, and a few will venture across the sea. The people they shepherd will grow closer to Jesus in the process—and influence the world.
You can point out the small group plan at the back of the book and all the useful tools at AcrosstheStreetandAroundtheWorld.com, like sermon-series plans and an all-church global challenge where the whole church eats beans and rice for a week while they send a team to love on refugees.Q: What’s the next book coming from the Jeannie Marie keyboard?
This two-and-a-half-year-old baby just got born yesterday, and you’re already asking about the next one?! Actually, I live so far in the future inside of my head that book two and three are already written in my mind.
Dress for Heaven shows how to practically live out the way heaven is meant to be, where God is in charge right here on earth, in different spheres of our life: career, family, marriage, purpose, play, and such. If you write and tell me what you think about book number one, I’ll tell you about book number three!Q: Toward the end of the book, you lay bare the American dream. Talk about your journey of surrender.
While reading the audiobook in the studio, I kept stopping the sound engineer during chapter eleven. I could only read a line at a time in parts because I would start choking up with tears because I lived it. Like when my rich uncle died at a ripe old age and God advanced some of my parents’ treasure in heaven ahead of time through him after they’d followed Jesus for fifty years around the globe. When I finally gave up my beloved dining room table to move overseas. And when God changed the address of people I knew living in foreign countries and gave them an address in heaven.
Surrendering the American dream gets real and personal. A good mobilizer lives it out so we help other people get a feel for the story they might get to live, too.A Word from Shane
I almost never use this Practical Mobilization column to sell stuff, but I’m asking you to buy this book. If our tribe helps the book go big in its launch week, we’ll contribute to its broader success, help build momentum, and encourage both Jeannie and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, to produce and distribute more good resources like this. Thanks.