In this Issue: News from the Middle East, North Korea, and More
- USA: The Go Documentary
- TURKEY: In This City
- NORTH KOREA: One of Five Countries Where Christmas Is a Crime
- WORLD: Data on Population, Poverty, and Faith
- WORLD: The Biggest News Stories of 2018
Source: Grace Church, 2018
“When it comes to missions, the world in severely unbalanced: only 2.4% of all missionaries go to the unreached; there is only one missionary for every 278,431 unreached peoples; and out of every dollar Christians give to missions, a little more than a penny goes to the unreached. These statistics broke our hearts. We wondered what we could do about it. After a long journey of discovery, we realized what the true issue was: No one knew about the problem. And if no one knows, how can anyone care?”
Two guys, one a filmmaker who serves as his church’s communication director, the other the church’s director of outreach and mobilization, led efforts to change this at their Kansas church and beyond. They and a team of creatives ended up making the Go Documentary. It explains the reality of unreached peoples and their need for Bible translation and other ministries and takes viewers on a journey to Nepal for a first-hand look.
The documentary premiered at their church in September. “We were so encouraged to see people take to heart the message of the film. Sixty families signed up to translate Bible verses into a rare Nepalese dialect.”
They’ve now entered it in multiple film festivals and are eager to see how God will use it. Well done!
» Another story from the USA reports on the launch of a movement to prayerwalk every college and university campus in the nation by January 2020 (Intervarsity, via Mission Network News).
Source: Arab World Media, January 1, 2019
Istanbul, Turkey. A city where East meets West. The Bosphorus Strait, a narrow waterway, connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. It also divides the city in two: half on the continent of Europe and half on the continent of Asia. Thousands from the Middle East, displaced by wars, call this city “home.” We pray that they will meet Jesus on their journey.
Most Arabs in the city are trying to get settled, secure a decent job and find some semblance of decency, community, and hope for their or their family’s future. Most hold menial, manual labor jobs and their salaries are very low. Their children are slowly being integrated into Turkish schools and Turkish society. While some still desire to return to Syria, most Arabs who have made it to Istanbul are trying to settle there as immigrants.
As a secular state, the Turkish government does not have laws against conversion or proselytism. However, social pressures and persecution are very prevalent. Friends and family members can make life difficult. There are distinct pockets of different sects and groups that are associated with ISIS and other extremist groups.
Fear inhibits new believers from sharing their faith and stunts the growth of the church among their people. Fear also prevents disillusioned Muslims from actively pursuing a life of faith in Christ. Imagine how much seeking, sharing and evangelism could happen if the barriers of fear were removed!
» See full story for facts about the city, a vision for ministry, and ways we can pray.
» Also read Now Our Faith Is Real, an account of how the gospel has spread from one family of Syrian refugees to more than 300 people meeting to read scripture (Frontiers).
Source: Open Doors, December 6, 2018
Slowly, the five friends make their way to the women’s outhouse they use each day. They look back. No one has followed them. In the stench of the room, they gather in a corner. Saying little, always in muttered whispers, they stand quietly. One woman softly sings. Another leads a short prayer.
Year after year, this is what Christmas looks like for these believers in a North Korean labor camp. Counting the cost, they risk their lives to come together to pray and sing, reflecting on the coming of their Savior—both 2,000 years ago and one future day they all hope comes very soon.
For millions of believers like these, the celebration of our Savior entering the world must be a risk-laden secret Christmas. They know that there is a war on Christmas—and what that war really looks like.
While we see Christmas trees on every corner, persecuted believers might not ever see a single Christmas decoration. If they do, it’s only in a secret celebration because in several countries, Christmas is illegal and banned outright. Any Christmas celebration carries with it the potential for fines, arrest, and imprisonment.
» Sure, Christmas observances can obscure or distract from the message of the incarnation instead of highlighting it, but we’re rejoicing in fruit from holiday outreaches reported by churches and in missionary newsletters. And see Iraq Declares Christmas a National Holiday (Gulf News).
Some fascinating pieces we came across in our sleuthing:
1. Explore a remarkable visualization of the human population of the world’s cities as Population Mountains (The Pudding, via Flowing Data).
2. Download a 34-page booklet from the UN, The World’s Cities in 2018 (United Nations, via Justin Long).
3. Check out some interesting and data-informed articles on the topic, Is the End of Extreme Poverty in Sight? (Mission Frontiers).
4. See the latest annual Status of Global Christianity from Todd Johnson and his colleagues at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. A related article was published in the January issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, but you’ll need a subscription to ready it.
Source: Brigada Today, December 30, 2019
What, to you, were the biggest news stories of 2018? We’re talking about stories that impacted your life, your work, and the lives/work of the people around you. So please, don’t suggest that it was all about leading political figures. Yes—they can exert influence. But what top stories DIDN’T relate to polarizing government leaders [and] still impacted your work and witness—even if they only did so in your region?
Here are some possible suggestions to prime the pump. Was it…
- Kim Jong Un announced that North Korea will denuclearize
- The net neutrality debate
- Cuba, and the transition out for the Castro family as rulers
- Iraq holds its first elections since driving out the Islamic State
- Bitcoin crashes (or at least falls)
- Prince Harry and Meghan said “I do”
- Terrible wildfires in California or a new tsunami in Indonesia
» What do YOU think??? Vote for one of these or supply the answer yourself.
» Pat’s note: I’m very curious! Please take a moment to comment at Brigada. I left my comment and want to see yours. For reminders, see top story lists from Christianity Today and IRIN News. We also noted a recent study demonstrating that almost seven-in-ten Americans feel worn out by the amount of news these days! (Pew Research Center).
In this edition:
- VIDEO: 2018 Year in Review
- BOOKS: The Year’s Best Mission Books
- VIDEOS: Animated Shorts from the Bible Project
- WEBSITE: Go.Serve.Love
- EVENTS: January Training and Conferences
Think back over the world’s headlines from the last year. How much do you remember? As you watch The Year in Review video from Prayercast, ask God to break through global events to touch and transform people’s hearts and lives.
» Want to change the world in 2019? Consider choosing one or more of the Prayercast prayer plans. Make it part of your personal devotions or use with your family or group.
» See also Praying for the World, now available as a free, weekly church bulletin insert from Operation World and the Lausanne Movement.
Source: Catalyst Services
Readers of Postings, a publication of Catalyst Services for church and mission leaders, recommend books published (or read) in 2018. Many of them I loved, found quite helpful, and also mentioned here, but others were new to me. Maybe new to you, too.
» Read Best Mission Books of 2018.
Source: The Bible Project
Meg, in Phoenix, brought to our attention a visual storytelling ministry I don’t think we’ve featured here. The Bible Project is a non-profit animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere, through videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible’s unified story.
Use these free, high-quality materials to bring your own reading of scripture to life or to help others engage with the Bible. Materials are currently available in English, Spanish, German, Indonesian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Russian.
» Explore the Bible through videos from The Bible Project.
» Moving Works is another ministry that makes and gives away short films to tell the world about Jesus. They recently released the first three of six films to use in share Jesus with the Japanese (English subtitles).
One of the things they are highlighting right now is a series of preparedness surveys helping individuals identify gaps and areas of growth as they pursue heading out to serve overseas.
These are great tools for those who feel lead to go but aren’t quite sure what all is involved or what steps they can take now, where they live, to begin preparing themselves emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and culturally.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
Friends, I’ve updated our Missions Catalyst Events Calendar as far as I can see into 2019. More events will be added as the year goes on. As always, your input is welcome!
January 2-5, Cross Conference (Louisville, KY, USA). Student missions conference.
January 3-25, Perspectives Intensive (Kailua-Kona, HI, USA). Provided by Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.
January 6-12, Perspectives Intensive (New Freedom, PA, USA). Provided by Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.
January 7 to February 2, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition course offered regularly by Missionary Training International.
January 7 to May 12, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). Another class begins January 21.
January 9 to June 28, School of Global Harvest (Chiang Mai, Thailand). Provided by SVM2.
January 13 to February 8, Equipping for Cross-Cultural Life and Ministry (Union Mills, NC, USA). Offered regularly by the Center for Intercultural Training.
January 14-15, Support Raising Bootcamp (Brea, CA, USA). Offered regularly by Support Raising Solutions.
January 14-15, Equipping Missions for the Cultural Challenges of Singleness, Marriage & Sexuality (Orlando, FL). From Missio Nexus.
January 14-16, Field Security Seminar (Managua, Nicaragua). Prepare to live, work, and travel in high-risk environments. Followed by a Crisis Management Seminar, both from Crisis Consulting International.
January 14-18, Encountering the World of Islam (online). New classes start several times a year.
January 17, Partnering Well (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
January 18-19, Mission ConneXion (Tualatin, OR, USA). Free, annual mission conference for all ages.
January 18-20, Missions Fest Vancouver (Vancouver, BC, Canada). Free, annual, mission festival for all ages.
January 31, Webinar: Moving Missions Beyond Simple Charity and Short-Term Fixes (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
» View the complete calendar. Want to know more about a specific event? Contact the event organizers.