In this edition:
- SOMEWHERE IN ASIA: Church Simplified
- MIDDLE EAST: Finding the Path to Life in a Place of Death
- IRAQ: Healing Hand of Jesus Breaks Out in Baghdad
- PAKISTAN: Acquitted But Still In Peril
- INDIA: Do You Know the Roots of This Famous Song?
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Source: Beyond, June 5, 2021
During an early morning taxi ride, Amy struck up a conversation with the driver. It was obvious that Mr. Wu was a Christian from the music playing and the stickers in his cab.
“Where do you worship?” Amy asked.
“Well,” he answered sheepishly, “not everyone understands, but we have people come into our home. The taxi drivers that I meet would probably never be willing to go into a church, but they like coming to my house and hearing stories about God. My children, too!”
Mr. Wu was surprised by Amy’s affirmation of his “simplified church.” After he described a typical meeting, Amy noted its similarity to a discovery Bible study. She offered two simple suggestions: a question to help the group know God better and a reproducing step where everyone shares what they learn with others.
“Oh, that’s great! I’m going to try those this week!” Mr. Wu declared.
Mr. Wu shared that he had seen Amy before and wanted to meet her. Amy knew the Holy Spirit had orchestrated their meeting. She, too, was greatly encouraged by meeting a local believer willing to take a non-traditional approach to see more people become followers of Jesus.
You might also be interested in reading Longing to Be Whole: Hannah Prepares for Story Night (Pioneers USA) or The Gospel on the Amazon River (The Navigators).
Source: Frontiers USA, June 9, 2021
Damira didn’t know how much more heartache she could handle.
Her husband had recently abandoned her and left her to raise three small children on her own. Her pantry was bare, and she was running out of money to buy food for her family.
One cold morning, she left her children in the care of her sister and walked a couple of miles out of her small city to an ancient tomb in the middle of the desert. Damira spent two solitary weeks at the tomb, crying out to God for help.
At night, Damira felt petrified. She feared the evil spirits that were said to linger around gravesites after dark. She huddled against the cold exterior of the tomb, pleading with the saint to keep the spirits away from her.
She slept in fits. But each time sleep overcame her, Damira dreamed of a man who called her to follow Him.
“I will show you the right way,” He told her. She woke up from these dreams feeling flooded with peace.
She huddled against the cold exterior of the tomb, pleading with the saint to keep the spirits away from her.
Shortly after returning home, Damira met Rayanne, a Muslim-background believer [in Christ]. Rayanne invited Damira to watch a movie about Jesus. Damira agreed to see the film, even though she had never heard of Jesus.
The movie started with Jesus’ birth and His early years. But when the story jumped ahead to Jesus being baptized as an adult, Damira began shouting, “That’s Him! That’s Him!”
Source: God Reports, June 14, 2021
“I’ve never seen Jesus do as much as on this trip! I probably prayed for approximately 240-250 people, handed out about 90 New Testaments, 30 Gospels of John, and 20 Jesus film DVDs,” says Dave Osborne of Family of Hope Ministries about his recent trip to Baghdad.
“I got to share the gospel directly a few times with people who spoke English, or I had someone with me to translate. Jesus healed at least one person every day of the trip. Once or twice, as many as 20 in a day! I really anticipated some hostility and pushback, but almost everyone was very receptive!”
On day one of Osborne’s trip, Jesus healed the back pain in the Yazidi taxi driver Adel’s back while he was driving down to Erbil. Osborne got to share the gospel with him and leave him a gospel radio.
On day two, Osborne had lunch with a hotel worker at the time, whom he met in Erbil about a year and a half ago when he first visited. “He showed me the Gospel of John that I had given him then. He carries it in his briefcase now and says it gives him comfort. He’s only read it once, but after seeing Jesus heal a couple of people at the restaurant, I’m hoping he’ll want to read it again!”
Walking through a mall, looking for encounters, Osborne said Jesus healed the pain in fast food worker’s knee, while maybe half a dozen workers looked on. Osborne left him with the New Testament and a Jesus film and the following day, at the park he visited that day, Jesus healed the pain in his knee and back, on the banks of the Tigris River. “He and his buddy Ali, stood guard with their black Hummer, with what I guessed was a 50-caliber machine gun mounted on it. Jesus also healed the pain in Ali’s back and head, and I got to leave both of them with a copy of the Jesus Film.”
Also from Iraq, read COVID-19 Teaches Doctor in Iraq About Healing (Christian Aid Mission).
Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, June 8, 2021
On Thursday, June 3, the Lahore High Court accepted the appeal of Christians Shafqat Emmanuel, 49 and his wife Shagufta Kausar, 52, and acquitted them of the charge of blasphemy.
Arrested in 2013, the illiterate couple was accused of sending blasphemous English language text messages to a local Islamic cleric. While the phone did belong to Shagufta, it had been missing for a month and sources suspect a spiteful neighbor might have framed the couple. Shafqat and Shagufta were sentenced to death in 2014 on the basis of Shafqat’s “confession,” which he provided when police threatened to torture his wife. This was after their torture of Shafqat had proved unsuccessful.
According to the couple’s attorney, Saif ul-Malook (who also represented Asia Bibi), the couple was acquitted on the basis of “adulterated evidence and manipulated testimonies of the prosecution witnesses.”
Malook’s main concern now is the family’s safety. A source in the government told Morning Star News (MSN) that security agencies have been directed to ensure the protection of the couple and their lawyer. Regardless, Shafqat, Shagufta, and their four children will need asylum abroad.
See also Seven Years in a Pakistan Prison—Christian Couple Freed from Death Sentence (Open Doors). A BBC story about the case says nobody in Pakistan has ever been executed under the blasphemy laws, though dozens of those accused have been killed by mobs.
In neighboring India, anti-conversion laws are tightening, and new restrictions have just begun in Gujarat (Mission Network News).
Source: Asia Harvest, June 15, 2021
In the hills of northeast India live the Garo tribe, numbering more than one million people. For centuries they were feared as a primitive head-hunting tribe, but in the most recent Indian census, over 95 percent of the Garo declared themselves to be Christians. Here is one reason why…
In the late 1800s, many missionaries came to the state of Assam in northeast India to spread the gospel. They succeeded in converting a man named Nokseng, his wife, and his two children. Nokseng’s faith proved contagious and many villagers began to accept Jesus.
The village chief, angry at the prospect of losing control, summoned all the villagers. He demanded Nokseng’s family to publicly renounce their faith or face execution.
Moved by the Holy Spirit, Nokseng said: “I have decided to follow Jesus.”
Enraged at his refusal to deny Christ, the chief ordered his archers to shoot the two children. As both boys lay twitching on the ground, the chief asked, “Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife also.”
But Nokseng replied: “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.”
The chief was beside himself with fury and ordered Nokseng’s wife to be shot with arrows. In a moment she joined her children in death. Now the chief said for the last time: “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live.” In the face of death, Nokseng did not waver, and made his final memorable statement:
“The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back.”
He was killed like the rest of his family, but a miracle took place. The chief was moved by Nokseng’s faith and he wondered, “Why would Nokseng and his family die for a man who lived in a far-away land some 2,000 years ago? This God must have remarkable power, and I too want to taste that faith.”
In a spontaneous confession, the chief declared, “I too belong to Jesus Christ!” When the crowd heard this from the mouth of their chief, the whole village accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Later, Nokseng’s words became a beloved song of the Garo Christians, and was later translated into English and sung around the world.
Read the full story.
- EDITOR’S NOTE: Mass Gatherings and World Evangelization
- MIDDLE EAST: Syrian Refugee Receives Desperately Needed Miracle
- WORLD: Empowering Migrant Workers for Mission
- ALGERIA: No Churches Left to Close, but Persecution Rises
- USA: Trailblazing Chaplain Makes Disciples Through Instagram
- NEPAL: A Campaign to Discredit Christian Groups
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As I write, it is Memorial Day in the US and many are getting together with others as vaccination rates rise and infection rates fall. I expect our upcoming Independence Day will bring more and larger gatherings.
The World Health Organization defines a mass gathering as “a planned or spontaneous event where the number of people attending could strain the planning and response resources of the community or country hosting the event.”
By this definition, an exodus of refugees could be a “mass gathering,” if an involuntary one. But many are music or sporting events, political rallies, or religious festivals. Check out the top 10 human gatherings in the world, only half of which are religious (Largest.org). A few in the US include the Gathering of Nations, Hobo Days, and the Burning Man Festival.
What do these have to do with evangelism? Everything. These events are expressions of identity or belonging. Even the extreme introverts will watch from a distance and say, “That’s my people, team, or group. This is where my loyalty lies!” Remind you of anything?
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10).
Source: Christian Aid Mission, May 20, 2021
A refugee trying to recover from an injury to his skull sustained in war-torn Syria was in constant pain. Fellow refugees who had received food and other aid from local missionaries believed that kind-hearted people were healers, so they called the leader of the native ministry, believing that he was so kind he had to have power to heal.
“When we had gone to the camp the previous Friday, we saw that Joram was suffering from pain,” the ministry leader said. “His wife explained that even the painkillers did not work, and he was saying that his whole body was in pain and was afraid that more of his skull would crack.”
The local missionary suggested maybe his body aches were signs of COVID-19, but Joram said he had no other symptoms.
“On my way there I prayed to God to send His Holy Spirit and heal this person, because I am nothing without God’s direction,” the ministry leader said. “And with all my heart I prayed for God to heal him.”
Joram was in agony as the leader began to pray for him, his intercession as warm and deep as his faith in God. After about three minutes of praying, he heard Joram suddenly start to cry and felt him hugging his leg—and saying the pain in his body had suddenly disappeared.
“While I tried to calm him down, I started crying, because God was so great, I could not control my feelings,” the leader said. “Unfortunately, we do not meet with such miracles every day. After Joram calmed down, we told him that God’s love saved him from his pain and how much God cared for him. Joram said openly that he wanted to believe in our God, and I can’t tell you my surprise at that moment. He asked us to visit him later, and we said that we would come again.”
Source: Lausanne Global Analysis, May 2021
Global migration’s impact on mission strategy has become a growing focus in global mission.
“Empowering believers already on the move to be frontline kingdom workers is essential in influencing nations for the gospel,” write Harvey Thiessen, Area Leader for Oceania North America with OM, and Alena Popova, a data research analyst with Scatter Global. In their article “Passing the Baton to Evangelical Migrants,” they examine where these workers could have the greatest impact by looking at the migration data of the United Nations and the data of believers moving to the least reached geographic zones.
Discipling, mobilizing, training, and supporting them “will revolutionize how migrant workers see themselves and their role” as witnesses for the gospel wherever God has sent them.
You might also want to check out another recent and thought-provoking article from Lausanne, Five Reasons You Don’t Want to Evangelize to Jews—and Why You Should.
Source: International Christian Concern, May 18, 2021
Algerian government restrictions on Christians in 2018 began with the closure of 13 churches. Now, all Protestant churches remain closed and individual Christians are bearing the brunt of government persecution.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Algeria, Protestant churches have remained closed under “safety” guidelines, although mosques and the Catholic Church have been allowed to restart their worship gatherings inside. The Ministry of Religious Affairs informed the EPA that it was not their responsibility to address the reopening of the churches, but did not indicate another party responsible, and the UN Algerian ambassador commented that it was, in fact, their duty.
[Currently] the Algerian Protestant Church operates almost entirely online with two services per week, active social media, and virtual prayer meetings and training.
Read the full story and lift up Algeria.
According to Middle East Concern, Algerian Christians are celebrating the return of an appropriated church building but asking for continued prayer for their situation.
Source: Morning Star News, April 28, 2021
In a ploy to revoke the registration of Christian organizations and shrink their influence, Hindu extremists in Nepal have forged a document as if from Christian groups portraying them as seeking ethnic divisions to gain converts, sources said.
The document falsely attributed to the Nepal Christian Society and the National Churches Fellowship of Nepal asserts that unless they can cause divisions in the upper-caste Brahmin and Chhetri communities, conversions to Christianity are not possible, said Mukunda Sharma, executive secretary of Nepal Christian Society.
After the fabricated document went viral on social media, members of the Hindu nationalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) used it to demand that registrations of Christian charities be canceled, Sharma said.
Reportedly appearing first on Hindu nationalist leaders’ Facebook accounts on April 5, the fake document soon went viral.
The full story goes into more detail on how and why this happened.
Source: Assemblies of God Missions, May 6, 2021
Civil Air Patrol Capt. Leia Eisenhower says her father’s church planting efforts led to her own innovative spiritual path: an online Instagram discipleship ministry reaching over 100,000 people with the gospel.
Eisenhower, 47, grew up in Bahia, Brazil. Her father, Eugenio Felix, launched more than 30 churches and also served as an Assemblies of God presbyter in South America’s largest nation.
“My father taught me that I couldn’t just read the Bible. I needed to explain it,” she says. Eisenhower says God answered her father’s prayers for her by calling her to ministry at the age of 14. She went on to attend Assemblies of God Brazilian Theological Seminary and served as a Brazilian missionary before coming to the United States in 2002 [and eventually became a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol, currently based in New York].
Eisenhower wrote a book in 2019 called My Neighbors: The Theology of Relationships. The book, available in Spanish, Bemba, and English, uses the parable of the Good Samaritan to discuss relationships.
After [a] pandemic lock down, Eisenhower looked for the best way to teach classes based on her book. She chose Instagram’s platform for its worldwide reach and accessibility of communication through direct messages.
“I started to record a class with the Bible as my foundation, and the discipleship part began growing so fast I had to assign people to do things,” she says. “I began recording the class in different languages and having it translated. Every night I would get on Instagram and do a midnight prayer live.”
Within a year, she says over 100,000 people followed her discipleship messages and more than 100 have accepted Christ as Savior.
For more on the ministry of military chaplains, see Burkina Faso’s Seven Army Chaplains Struggle Amid Jihadist Attacks (Christianity Today).