Missions Catalyst

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World Missions News, Ideas, and Resources
Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

ERITREA: “We Will Not Negotiate Our Faith”

Source: Open Doors, September 1, 2019

“We will not negotiate our faith and will continue following Jesus.”

The bold words of six Christian government employees in Eritrea came on August 16 when officials pressured them to recant.

The incident is part of an intensifying crackdown on Christians in the East African country. Since the end of June, 150 Christians have been arrested in Asmara and Keren, Eritrea’s second-largest city approximately 56 miles northwest of Asmara.

The first arrest took place on Sunday, June 23. Security officials rounded up 70 Christians (35 women, 25 men, and 10 children) from the Faith Mission Church of Christ in Keren. This is the only church that has remained open there. They also closed the church-run school.

We know that the group arrested in Keren is being kept in very harsh conditions in a prison complex called Ashufera near the town of Hagaz about 15 miles from Keren. The complex consists of underground tunnels and is far from the main road.

This means that anyone who wants to visit loved ones there must walk a minimum of 30 minutes to reach the entrance. Inmates are said to be forced to dig additional tunnels when officers need extra space for more prisoners.

The intensified government action has sent other Christians from Keren into hiding.

» Read full story and see Eritrea: The Korea of North Africa.

» See also At Least 150 Christians Arrested in Eritrea Clampdown (World Watch Monitor). Eritrea has also closed down all Christian-run health centers (Premier).

ESTONIA: Theology Degree to First Deaf Student

Source: One Mission Society, August 23, 2019

Riho [is] the first Deaf Estonian to earn a degree in theology! For three years we had sign language translators for our classes, working with Riho to complete his studies. In the 1990s Riho planted a Deaf church in Tallinn that has sent missionaries to work with Deaf people in China, Jordan, across Russia, and beyond.

His courage and commitment are incredible, but Riho recognized the need for in-depth teaching to help him take his congregation deeper in their understanding of God. Teaching Riho was a real honor. Pray that God will reward his hard work with much fruit among the Deaf community!

» Read full story. Let’s pray that God continues using him to raise up missionaries and pastors for the Deaf in many nations. A bit more sleuthing suggests Riho graduated from the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary, which serves the United Methodist Church in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and also in the neighboring countries of Russia, Finland, Ukraine, and Moldova.

MIDDLE EAST: Bringing Scripture to Unreached Deaf Communities

Source: Mission Network News, August 22, 2019

Of the world’s more than 300 sign languages, not one has a complete Bible. DOOR International is now working with local Deaf communities to begin sign language Scripture translations in the Middle East and North Africa.

Only one (sign language) has the New Testament right now. And, only about 30 have any published Scripture at all,” says DOOR President and CEO Rob Myers.

“When you get into a community where even Christians typically have much more difficulty accessing Scripture, when you add deafness on top of that it makes it very, very difficult for…people to have any sort of gospel access at all,” Myers says.

The number of unreached people is vast, Myers explains. Though individuals using sign language as their first language make up one percent of a typical population, among populations in the hundreds of millions that one percent represents more than a million people. That number can be even higher in communities in Eastern Africa and the Middle East due to higher levels of inter-family marriage. In some Muslim countries, that Deaf population is closer to five percent.

In the Middle East and North African region, DOOR has partnered with local believers to translate Scripture into sign languages.

» Read full story and several more MNN stories about Deaf ministry: Deaf Bible Society Empowers Sign Language Bible Translation and Deaf Christians in Africa Learning to Engage Scripture.

THAILAND: Deaf Start a Church Where You Can’t Fake It

Source: International Mission Board, August 23, 2019

Sombat Apichai understood only 50 percent of the Thai Sign Language interpretation of the sermon at his church in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The sermon was translated into what is known as word signing, making the translation choppy. To complicate things further, Thai religious vocabulary is hard to understand, even for hearing Thais.

Sombat and other Deaf Christians were unable to truly connect or intimately worship God because they didn’t fully understand and were never discipled. They didn’t really have a way to contribute or volunteer at church. They felt disconnected and isolated from the hearing members of their church.

Sombat and Alisara said Deaf Christians often feign understanding in mixed congregations of hearing and Deaf Christians because there isn’t usually time to ask questions, and if there is an opportunity to ask, there aren’t many hearing church members who are able to communicate the real meaning in Thai Sign Language.

» Read full story to learn about a new Deaf-led church that creates an environment where Deaf people are not left behind but empowered and transformed by scripture. Something we all need! The details are pretty interesting.

» Also read about a young girl in India who was healed of her deafness but disowned by her family after following Jesus (Open Doors/Christian Post).

HONG KONG: What Do the Protests Have to Do with Missions?

Source: The Missions Podcast, September 1, 2019

Between 1-2 million people have been taking to the streets in Hong Kong—even singing Christian hymns—in peaceful protest over a new extradition law representing China’s continued aim to tighten its fist and squelch political and religious liberties in the semi-autonomous region. What can believers learn from this complex situation?

In this special episode, [host] Alex Kocman and Scott Dunford—a former missionary in Asia—discuss the situation on the ground, the history, and implications for believers seeking to boldly engage the surrounding culture both on the mission field and at home.

» Listen to the podcast (46 minutes long). The Missions Podcast comes from a Baptist ministry, ABWE International.

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Missions Catalyst Resource Reviews 08.28.19

  1. VIDEO SERIES: Jesus the Game Changer
  2. BOOK: Fruit to Harvest
  3. DEVOTION: A 40-Day Journey to the Never Reached
  4. DOCUMENTARY: The Untold Story of the Church in Iran
  5. EVENTS: Conferences, Courses, and More

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Jesus the Game Changer is a ten-part series exploring how the life and teaching of Jesus changed the world and why that matters. Could this bolster your faith or faith community, or is it something to share with others? See trailer and more info below (Olive Tree Media).

VIDEO SERIES: Jesus the Game Changer—To the Ends of the Earth

Source: Olive Tree Media

Jesus Christ has made an indelible mark on human history and continues to do so through his followers. Yet many people do not realize that the values western democracies are built on originate in the life and teaching of Jesus—the equality of all, servant leadership, care for the poor and marginalized, dignity of women and children, education, and more.

In this documentary series, Australian host Karl Faase travels to the UK, USA, Singapore, India, and Australia, interviewing more than 30 authors, academics and modern-day game changers about how the life and teaching of Jesus changed the world and why it matters.

Each of the ten episodes is 28 minutes long. You can rent or purchase access online for a few dollars or get the whole set on DVD for $49.95. Additional material is available to help you use the series with your church, school, or small group.

I haven’t had the chance to watch the videos, but everything I see suggests consistent high quality. See the trailer below.

» Learn more or purchase materials. You can watch a dozen extended interviews on their website. You’ll recognize some names and faces.

BOOK: Fruit to Harvest

Source: William Carey Library

Fruit to Harvest: Witness of God’s Great Work among Muslims, ed. Gene Daniels, Pam Arlund, and Jim Haney. William Carey Library, 2019. 310 pages.

In 2008, the Vision 5:9 network published From Seed to Fruit, a ground-breaking book exploring what practices God was blessing to raise up groups of Jesus-followers among Muslims and describing global trends and emerging issues for ministry among Muslims.

Fruit to Harvest is a sequel of sorts, as the name suggests. Like the first volume, it is based on the proceedings of a global conference on reaching Muslims. Some 47 authors from 21 nations and 30 different agencies working across the Muslim world contributed case studies, information about ministry among Muslims, current challenges, and new strategies.

While many of the topics are covered in greater depth elsewhere, this book covers a lot of ground and provides inspiring, up-to-date, and readable presentations, each with footnotes and suggestions for those who want to learn more. The authors are experienced and passionate practitioners. Some are from Muslim backgrounds themselves.

I appreciated material addressing urban enclaves, Muslim migrants, and nomadic Muslims, as well as strong material on honor and shame, suffering and persecution, partnership, and more. I recommend it highly.

» Learn more or purchase. You can get the Kindle edition for US$9.99 or pre-order a paperback copy for US$19.99.

» Other new releases from William Carey Library include For the Joy: 21 Missionary Mother Stories of Real Life and Faith, edited by Miriam Chan and Sophia Russell, and Sacred Siblings: Valuing One Another for the Great Commission, by Sue Eenigenburg and Suzy Grumelot (which seems to deal with singleness, marriage, and expectations on a team).

DEVOTION: GO—A 40-Day Journey to the Never Reached

Source: Assembly of God World Missions

“Jesus walked on this earth for exactly 40 days after his resurrection. During those 40 days, one word resounds: GO. Dive into the stories and perspectives of people who love the ‘never reached’ as they unpack why Jesus’s words mandate all Christ-followers to go.”

This new 40-day devotion from Assembly of God World Missions is designed to inspire you to join countless others who devote themselves to praying, giving, and going to the ends of the earth. It includes compelling stories written by missionaries who serve in some of the hardest-to-reach parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

» Learn more or buy the paperback for US$9.99; an ebook version is on the way. But what caught my eye is the (reduced?) edition available for free as a YouVersion reading plan. I plan to give it a try.

DOCUMENTARY: Sheep Among Wolves, Volume II—The Untold Story of the Church in Iran

Source: Frontier Alliance International and Maranatha

“The fastest growing church in the world today has taken root in one of the most unexpected and radicalized nations on earth,” say the producers of this unusual new documentary, built around interviews and music videos.

“Muslim-background Iranians are leading a quiet but mass exodus out of Islam and bowing their knees to the Jewish Messiah—with kindled affections toward the Jewish people. The Iranian awakening is a rapidly reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women. This is their story.”

Though this documentary stands alone, a Volume 1 came out in 2015. Volume II had its online debut just last week. I’m not sure what to make of it! Would be interested in hearing your response.

» Learn more and stream or download the film. Also available on YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook.

EVENTS: Conferences, Courses, and More

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

September 2-15, ORIENT pre-field training for global workers (Eminence, MO, USA). Provided by TRAIN International.

September 3, Missionary Story: Steve & Mary Jo (online). Part of a series of stories from Beyond.

September 8-21, Great Commission Leadership Institute (Chiang Mai, Thailand). From Global Mission Mobilization Initiative (formerly SVM2).

September 9 to October 5, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Mission Training International.

September 9 to December 8, Encountering the World of Islam (online). Embracing Muslims with the love of Christ.

September 12, Whose Job Is It? The Necessity of Prayer in Missions (online). Nugget training from Beyond.

September 12 to October 10, Foundations of Media to Movements (online). Mentored course from Mission Media U on using social media for deeper conversations and disciple-making.

September 12-13, Support Raising Bootcamp (Pittsburgh, PA, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

September 16-18, Face 2 Face with Muslims (Orlando, FL, USA). Annual consultation from the Coalition of Ministries to Muslims in North America.

September 18-24, Traction (Wilderswil, Switzerland). Renewal conference for men serving cross-culturally; held annually.

September 18 to October 16, Introduction to Story in Ministry (online). Mission Media U mentored course to better communicate the message of Christ whether your story application is oral, written, or filmed.

September 18-19, Standards Introductory Workshop (Orlando, FL, USA). Training in the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

September 19-21, Mission Leaders Conference (Orlando, FL, USA). Annual event from Missio Nexus.

September 20-21, People Raising Conference (Oak Brook, IL, USA). Be equipped for raising personal support.

September 25-28, Field Security Seminar (Lake George, CO, USA). Prepare to live, work, and travel in high-risk environments.

September 26-29, New Wineskins Global Mission Conference (Ridgecrest, NC, USA). Triennial conference of the Anglican Church, with preconference meetings on more than 20 topics, including business as mission.

September 27-28, The Journey Deepens (Greenwood, IN, USA). Retreat for prospective missionaries.

September 30, The Mobilized Church: Keys to Unleashing Missionary Potential (Albuquerque, NM, USA). Provided by Sixteen:Fifteen. This workshop will be offered a second time October 4-5 in Mill Creek, WA.

» View the complete calendar. Additions welcome. Want to know more about a specific event? Contact the event organizers.