Source: Beyond, August 6, 2020
In North India, some women have been trained in making disciples. They have been faithful to apply what they’ve learned and are experiencing joy from bearing fruit. They have also cast a vision for disciple-making in six districts of their state.
One of the leaders of this group, a lovely and gentle woman, recently shared her testimony. Two years ago, she became a follower of Christ. She, her husband, and their children had been idol worshipers. Her family was “broken and terrible.” Then one day, she says, it was as if a light suddenly came on. That was the day she attended a Bible study in a nearby home. She loved it. After participating in the Bible study for three months, she wanted to start one in her own home. Soon, she and her whole family were baptized.
Today, through ongoing obedience to the Word and the application of its truths to their lives, this woman and her whole family have been changed. They actively share with others all that God has done for them. This one woman has started nine different Discovery Groups from which have come seven generations of disciples making disciples!
» Read full story and another about what happened when another group of believers decided to follow the example of the disciples in Luke 10. On August 27, Beyond will offer an online training session on God’s vision for all peoples through multiple generations. Learn more.
» You might be interested in learning about a Turkish man in the UK finding new opportunities to reach and disciple Turkish speakers there (OM).
Source: Church in Chains, August 13, 2020
Four Christian prisoners being held in crowded conditions in Evin prison in Tehran are feared to be suffering from COVID-19 following an outbreak of the virus in the prison.
Yasser Mossayebzadeh was one of twelve prisoners in Ward 8 in Evin Prison (which houses mainly religious and political prisoners) to test positive on August 10 during a random test of seventeen prisoners. About 60 prisoners are held in the ward.
Fellow-Christian prisoners of conscience Saheb Fadaie, Youcef Nadarkhani, and Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh were not among those tested, but each has been displaying symptoms.
Naser’s friends and family are particularly concerned about him as he recently turned 59 years old and remains in his crowded cell despite being laid low with fever for nearly a week.
» Read full story includes photos of the men and links to more biographical information. Let’s pray for them.
» See also Iran’s Covid Death Toll Three Times Higher Than Admitted, Says Report (The Guardian).
Source: Christian Aid Mission, August 6, 2020
Idris had opposed the efforts of Christian workers for many years. A local ministry leader said Idris believed he had a divine mandate to stop all efforts to lure people away from Allah and his prophet, and he told local missionaries to leave the area.
“He was extremely hostile to all efforts and to our missionaries, leading to the persecution against all of our converts there,” the leader said. “Idris even promised to kill our missionaries if they would not stop reaching their communities and preaching the gospel.”
Recently his pre-teen son was hit with rashes, vomiting, and pain in his eyes, joints, and bones. Idris rushed him to a medical clinic but in that area of Nigeria, hospitals do not admit patients who cannot pay beforehand.
“No one was willing to loan the money to him,” he said. “Our missionary heard the news that Idris was stranded and that his son was dying, and our workers went straight to the hospital and gave him the equivalent of about 40 dollars.”
That amount was enough for doctors to treat symptoms for a few days, keeping the boy alive until the illness ran its course. His son returned home and recovered after several days’ rest.
The genuine concern for him and his son’s welfare from Christians he had hurt changed Idris’ attitude, the ministry leader said—they would have no illusions about him leaving Islam, Idris thought, yet they had gladly helped an enemy.
As grateful as he was astonished, Idris began to research Christianity; he had to try to find out what was behind such bizarre behavior.
» Read full story. See also a report from Christian Aid about how recent violence in Nigeria is affecting their ministry partners.
» Also from West Africa: Did you hear Mali has just had a coup? Lift up that country and its people.
Source: Morning Star News, August 17, 2020
A Christian father of seven in northern India was hospitalized for more than two weeks after Hindu extremists with iron rods interrupted his night prayers with his family and beat him at his home. Pappu Kumar, released from a hospital on August 13 was praying with his family in Balawali village, Uttarakhand state at 9:30 p.m. on July 28 when a mob of at least 10 Hindu extremists appeared at his door, sources said.
The visitors told the 40-year-old Kumar, who put his faith in Christ just three months ago, to stop praying, said Mange Singh, a church pastor in the region who has been discipling Kumar’s family.
“Pappu responded that he was praying inside his house, and that should not bother anybody,” Pastor Singh said. “But the furious mob began to assault Pappu.”
Kumar sustained a severe head injury, a broken leg, and fractured bones in his hand in the assault. The assailants relented only at the intervention of villagers, the pastor said.
Pastor Singh said he later tried convincing Kumar to report the assault to police. He declined, saying he had to continue living and working in the village and would have to live with the consequences of filing a police complaint the rest of his life.
» Read full story and another from the same source, Hard-Line Hindu Neighbors Attack Pastor and Guests at His Home in India. Lord, we pray for peace.
Source: International Christian Concern, August 13
[On August 9] Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi called for the return of Iraqi Christians to their home. With ISIS declared militarily defeated, Al-Kadhimi hopes Christians will feel more comfortable returning. He expressed these hopes to Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, as well as a number of other bishops from Iraq.
Al-Kadhimi stated that “Iraq is the country for everyone, and that Christians are the original children of the country, and there is no difference between the people of the same country, as everyone is a partner in building the future of Iraq.”
“We are serious about providing assistance to our Christian families and solving their problems,” he continued. “We are glad that Christians will return to Iraq and contribute to its reconstruction. Iraqis of all sects are yearning for a new Iraq that believes in peace and rejects violence.”
In response, Patriarch Sako pledged the Church’s support for Al-Kadhimi, noting his hope that Iraq will achieve security and stability as displaced Christians make their returns.
» See also Voices of Iraq, a 10-minute video about Iraqi Christians (Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, 2018).
- LEBANON: Deadly Blast in Beirut
- USA: Sharing Stories of Faith Through Henna Designs
- KAZAKHSTAN: City Authorities Plan to Confiscate Church Buildings
- USA: State of the Bible Report Released
- ZAMBIA: A Champion for the Love of God
Source: Missions Catalyst, August 5, 2020
By now you have probably heard about the explosion yesterday (August 4) in the port area of Beirut, Lebanon. Even the earliest reports revealed the blast was huge, breaking glass in much of the city and felt 150 miles away in Cyprus. Now we know the explosion killed more than a hundred with at least that many missing and some 4,000 injured. A search for survivors is underway. Local government says as many as 300,000 people were made homeless by this explosion. Much of the port and large quantities of grain also stored in the area were also destroyed. The country has declared three days of mourning. Let’s call out to God with them at this time.
Both Lebanon and neighboring Syria were already overwhelmed by the pandemic, economic devastation, and hunger. And think of the refugees and other residents who have already faced so much trauma!
Pray for the people of Beirut and beyond and lift up the churches and others who will seek to meet the many needs even as they suffer themselves.
» You may not have heard about another tragic explosion in July. See GFA Calls for Compassionate Prayer Over Myanmar Jade Mine Disaster (Gospel for Asia) or read coverage of the event from the New York Times.
Source: Encountering the World of Islam, July 30, 2020
An alumna and friend of EWI (we’ll call her Addie) has developed the website StoryHands.org to help women gather and share stories of faith through simple henna designs.
The idea for StoryHands came through her years of interaction with Muslim women while living in Central Asia. There, as in many other parts of the world, henna is an art form used by women as a way to beautify their hands and feet in preparation for holidays and other important times of individual or community celebration.
Why not share biblical stories through this beloved art form? Many Muslim women are not comfortable if someone were to pull out a Bible and read a story. It is much more natural to share a biblical story through a henna design.
Initially, Addie was intimidated by using henna designs because she didn’t consider herself a good artist. This led her to use existing stencil-based story sets as well as develop original StoryHands design templates. Storyhands.org also has a how-to page containing a downloadable sample discussion guide, as well as a description of how henna storying circles can be so effective for helping women connect in meaningful ways.
Addie’s henna storying circles became so popular among Muslim refugee women in the US that a local mosque took notice. They secretly sent women to the group to find out what the big deal was!
During a recent henna party that Addie hosted in a refugee community, every woman present started to cry as she shared the Christmas story and the flight of the holy family to Egypt as refugees (Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2). It was a powerful moment for women who had fled from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war-torn countries. For the first time they heard and understood that Jesus could deeply identify with their experience of being a refugee.
» Also read about a ministry equipping and encouraging Persian refugee pastors in the US (International Mission Board).
Source: Forum 18, July 29, 2020
City authorities in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) have ordered the confiscation of the buildings of Grace Presbyterian Church and Agape Pentecostal Church which is building a place of worship on the same site. City authorities claim the land is needed for a new kindergarten. But officials refuse to explain why they cannot find another site for this, despite two possibly suitable buildings in the same district. Officials have also refused to explain why Grace Church is being offered [far less] compensation than its church building is worth.
Dmitry Kan, Grace Church’s pastor, told Forum 18 that “we simply want to continue to use our property for worship.”
“From 2002 we have dreamed of having our own building, and we just started building it,” Igor Tsay, Pastor of Agape Church, told Forum 18. “And then this. It was unexpected—a shock.” The church stopped construction of its new place of worship and offices as soon as it learned of the decision to confiscate the site.
» Full story has much more detail about the history of conflict between the nation’s local governments and its religious communities. Forum 18 documents religious liberty issues throughout the region.
» Interested in the Turkic world? Looks like many foreigners have been forced out of Turkey in recent months (World Watch Monitor). Please pray.
Source: American Bible Society, July 22, 2020
American Bible Society released its tenth annual State of the Bible report [July 22], which shows cultural trends in the US regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement.
“Despite nearly every individual in the US having access to the Bible, engagement has decreased. That’s been a consistent trend over the past few years, and the trend has accelerated since January 2020 throughout the pandemic,” said American Bible Society president and CEO, Robert Briggs.
The study shows a direct correlation between increased Scripture engagement and those efforts typically organized by a church, including mentorship programs and small group Bible studies. Church closures due to COVID-19 are therefore likely contributing to decreased rates of Scripture engagement.
» See also a related story, State of the Bible: Left Unread During the Coronavirus Pandemic (Religion News Service).
Source: Operation Mobilization, July 13, 2020
One night, Peter and his friends were looting in the mines for copper when Peter heard the sound of a gun. Bang! While running away from the police, he felt something hit his back and dropped to the ground unconscious. Awakening in the hospital, the first thing the doctor said was: “You will never walk again.” The bullet had traveled along Peter’s spinal cord and exited under his arm, very close to the heart. The doctor didn’t think Peter would live long.
Paralyzed and lying on his hospital bed, Peter believed his life was shattered. He wondered how he could carry on his life if he had a disability, especially due to the crimes he had committed. “I was full of regret and sorrow,” Peter recalled of his first few days in the hospital.
An evangelist visited the hospital and shared the love of God with Peter, though it took a while for the message to sink in. “I thought I was too bad to receive God’s love and there was no hope in my life,” said Peter. The evangelist did not give up though and constantly visited, explaining to Peter how people were all influenced by sin and that that was the reason why Jesus had come to earth. “Jesus came to save and seek the lost like me,” Peter explained, sharing how God opened his heart to the reality that Jesus loved him.
Receiving the love of God into his heart, Peter was overjoyed by the newfound hope and felt an indescribable peace for the first time in his life. His journey with Jesus started right at the hospital as he could not keep his faith to himself and began sharing the good news with other patients.
Three months in the hospital changed Peter from a man in total despair to a champion for God’s love. The doctor admitted Peter’s life was a miracle; though he could only slowly drag his legs, Peter was able to walk. Being released from the hospital was just the start of his new life. Everything had changed!
» Full story has pictures and describes how Peter came to lead a ministry to children with disabilities.