Missions Catalyst

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World Missions News, Ideas, and Resources
Updated: 1 hour 53 min ago

CHINA: Can You Help Us Figure Out Hong Kong?

Source: Brigada Today, June 23, 2019

Our friend Doug Lucas writes:

You know, to me, one of the hardest geographical challenges in the world is figuring out the mystery that is Hong Kong. How could a piece of China be a British colony—then not so much. And what happens when all these citizens fight so hard to become so Western, then they suddenly are reattached to mainland China, so mainland China pretends to let them remain as a special economic zone, but then, not?

And then, most recently, the CEO of Hong Kong (appointed by mainland China) sets about to pass a new set of laws that would extradite Hong Kong citizens who were activists, advocates, and even foreign nationals into mainland China—so as many as [a fourth] of the entire population took to the streets in protest.

So finally, the CEO drops the proposed law (for now), but people keep demonstrating. And one of the main “unofficial anthems” of the entire protest is the song, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord.” Learn more about the protest—and the anthem (Japan Times).

How can all this be? Would somebody please explain Hong Kong to us? Do you know of an article or book that makes this easy? If so, please help us out here.

» Read full story and add your comments. Asian Access also offers a good take on how to pray and Voice of the Martyrs shares another perspective (Mission Network News). For a sense of the protest scale, check out Flowing Data’s mashup of aerial photos. Amazing.

» In other China news, an update from Asia Harvest reports the persecution of Christians is now nationwide.

TAIWAN: Ghost Month

Source: OMF International, July 2, 2019

The seventh month of the lunar calendar is called “Ghost Month” in Taiwan. In Taiwanese folk religion, the spirit world consists of three types of beings. The gods are the highly respected and powerful spiritual beings. Ancestors are family members who have already died [and] require living relatives to offer ongoing resources in the spirit world. Ghosts are the spirits of people who died but are not being sufficiently supplied by the offerings of their living relatives.

During Ghost Month, ghosts are released from the underworld to roam the earth for one month. They can harm people who don’t provide for their needs. So, food and drinks are offered to to satisfy their hunger.

The largest of the food offerings happens during the middle of the month. Homes and businesses place tables with offerings out the front. Even fast food restaurants, tea shops, and grocery stores have tables set out to offer food and drink to the hungry ghosts.

People place burning incense sticks on the offering arrangements. Anything the incense ash falls upon is believed to become spiritual in nature for the ghosts to consume.

After the offerings are given, the people who give the offerings will either consume the food themselves or share it with others.

» Full story includes links to OMF videos about Taiwan. See also Understanding the Buddhist Worldview, a summary from OMF’s subject-matter expert (with great photos).

» Check out the new 15 Days Buddhist World Prayer Guide from WorldChristian.com. I just ordered 10 copies.

MALI: Christians Massacred

Source: Christian Freedom, July 1, 2019

Nearly 100 Christians were massacred by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in a Mali village on June 9, 2019. Witnesses said 50 radicalized herdsmen surrounded the village in trucks, destroyed everything, and killed men, women, and children.

“Anyone who tried to escape was killed,” a witness told AFP [news agency].

Fulani herdsmen who have been radicalized by Islamic militants are slaughtering Christian farmers and hunters in west Africa. The Nigerian House of Representatives declared it a “genocide” in 2018. In 2013, radical Islamists who captured north Mali were fought back by French troops. Jihadists shifted to other regions.

Pray for:

  • Survivors to know God’s peace.
  • Justice for victims.
  • Courage and wisdom for leaders to respond righteously.
  • Conversion of jihadists.

» Read full story. A story from Open Doors has more detail and links. Note the roots of religious violence may be more complex than they seem.

» From elsewhere in Africa, read Ethiopia: Pressure on Churches Building; Evangelical Church Told to Vacate after Ten Years (World Watch Monitor). For a more positive report, see Is the World’s Next Mission Movement in Ethiopia? (Christianity Today).

BURKINA FASO: A Fight for Survival

Source: Open Doors, June 20, 2019

In the landlocked country of 19.1 million people, the church and general population have seen escalating and deadly violence from Muslim extremists. Recent attacks have targeted church buildings and Christians, suggesting the involvement of Islamic extremists or what the population is calling jihadists.

The country’s foreign minister says tackling terrorism has become a fight “for the very survival” of the Sahel region, which incorporates the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Militants have forced 100,000 in Burkina Faso alone to flee their homes in recent months.

The Muslim-majority nation (Christians make up roughly 35 percent) has long been known for its peaceful coexistence between different religious and ethnic groups. But now, Muslim extremist violence is on the rise, fueling panic and fear over decreasing stability in the greater Sahel region.

One resident in the eastern region testified of increasing Sharia law: “At 6pm, everyone has to go to the mosque, then straight home. In the middle of the night, you must go and listen to sermons. You’re forbidden to criticize them. Women have to cover their heads. There’s no talk of cigarettes, alcohol or music, no celebrations.”

» Read full story.

» Elsewhere, we see Christianity in Iraq has decreased by 80 percent over the last two decades. An article in The Atlantic shares the story through the eyes of one family. An article from The Independent tells the haunting story of a 12-year-old Christian girl who, before dying in a fire set by ISIS, urged her parents to forgive them.

SWEDEN: Theological Education for Arabic-Speaking Immigrants

Source: Mission Network News, June 19, 2019

Muna was born in Amman, Jordan and has moved to different areas of the world to work with refugees and immigrants. In 1989, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia and then later to London, working with different ministries, and finally, in 1993, she moved to Sweden.

Following her move to Sweden, she began supporting immigrants as they integrated into the culture of Sweden, which was different from their own. Recently, Muna also began coaching immigrants on how to find jobs to stop living on social benefits.

Muna says when she first moved to Sweden, she began to pray that a [theological education by extension] program would begin in the country. In 2004, her prayers were answered.

[The Program for Theological Education by Extension] courses in Sweden have been teaching believers how to share the gospel effectively for 15 years now, but there are challenges.

“Many of them, they didn’t go to Sunday school when they were children, and many, many of them, they didn’t study after high school.”

Muna has been acting as the sole tutor in the area as she has higher education and [the program] does not have another qualified Arabic-speaking tutor. She has led courses and met with students on a regular basis. However, with the development of online courses, some of the weight has been lifted off her shoulders, and technology is making it easier for students to study and meet via the internet.

» Read full story.

» While refugees may leave the Middle East for places like Europe, many more remain. In the last two decades, refugees have almost doubled the population of Muna’s hometown, Amman. Learn more and pray for Amman (Arab World Media).

Questions People Ask about Missions & Evangelism | Resource Reviews

In this edition: Should we just leave them alone? Questions people ask about missions and evangelism

  1. VIDEO: Happy the Way They Are?
  2. ARTICLE: Five Secular Myths about Missions
  3. BOOK & BIBLE STUDY: The Gospel Above All
  4. BOOK: How to Bless a Missionary
  5. EVENT: Mobilizer Equipping School
  6. EVENTS: Conferences, Classes, and Retreats

Dear Readers,

In this issue we share a few tools that will help you tackle questions about Christian ethics and priorities. You may be grappling with these questions yourself. If you are not, perhaps they are areas of concern for friends and family, supporters, or those you seek to influence.

Let’s not be people who let ambiguity or past mistakes keep us from pressing on. Let’s be people who think deeply and communicate clearly. May today’s edition of Missions Catalyst help you respond with grace and wisdom.

Every blessing,
Marti Wade

VIDEO: Happy The Way They Are?

Source: Access Truth

Should missionaries leave jungle tribes alone? Are they just fine the way they are? Certainly the vulnerable have been hurt by missionaries and mission efforts more than we like to admit, and it does us no good to cover that up. But the negative press that Christian and mission efforts get in our world is sometimes deeply flawed.

» Watch the seven-minute video Happy the Way They Are? from Access Truth (also on Facebook).

ARTICLE: Five Secular Myths about Missions

Source: Trevor Johnson, HeartCry Missionary Society

November 2018—a medically trained young man, John Allen Chau, was killed trying to go ashore to reach the unreached people of North Sentinel Island among the Andaman Island group. He is heavily criticized and even mocked online.

As Western civilization pulls away from its Christian moorings, we see a rising anti-missionary sentiment. This was brought home to me in a very personal way in September of 2018. After 12 years of service among the remote Korowai tribe, I was shocked to read this bold headline, “Ancient Tribe on the Brink of Being Wiped Out by Christian Missionaries.” In another newspaper I read these further accusations, “Fight for Survival: Ancient Jungle Tribe of Super-Strong Hunters Close to Being Wiped Out by Christian Missionaries.”

» Get Johnson’s take on the ancient tribe in question and the flawed assumptions behind the headlines. Article includes helpful links and addresses these myths:

Myth 1. Missionaries destroy cultures.
Myth 2. Missionaries coerce local people into Christianity.
Myth 3. Missionaries bring deadly pathogens which decimate tribal peoples.
Myth 4. Tribal people are pure, innocent, and in harmony with nature.
Myth 5. Secular reporters are unbiased and objective and report on these issues truthfully.

BOOK & BIBLE STUDY: The Gospel Above All

Source: B&H Books, LifeWay Press

Above All: The Gospel Is the Source of the Church’s Renewal, by J. D. Greear. B&H Books, 2019. 240 pages.

“Is gospel Christianity dead? Pundits are writing the obituary of historic, orthodox Christianity, but pastor and author J. D. Greear believes the postmortems are premature. Jesus promised to build his church. He said that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The church is not going away. Along with this promise, Jesus gave clear instructions for how the church would prevail. He promised to build it on the rock of the gospel.

“The most pressing need for Christianity today is not a new strategy. It is not an updated message. It is a return to keeping the gospel above all.”

This is new and I haven’t had a chance to read it. If you want to use it with a group, pick up Gospel Above All: Bible Study Book (also available in a teen edition). That folds in discussion questions and a series of videos, most 20-30 minutes in length, in which Greear discusses the topic with other Christian leaders. I don’t think you can watch the videos without purchase, but I found clips on the author’s Facebook page.

» Learn more and download a sample chapter from the book website. On Amazon, the paperback is US$15.29, US$8.49 for the Kindle edition. See also Aren’t Short-term Mission Trips a Big Waste of Money? (episode from Greear’s podcast, Ask Me Anything).

» Looking for something to help you or your church get back to the basics when it comes to global outreach? Check out When Everything Is Missions, by Denny Spitters and Matthew Ellison. It packs a punch.

BOOK: How to Bless a Missionary

Source: Jennifer Brannon

How to Bless A Missionary: Practical Ideas for Your Church and Family, by Jennifer Brannon. Self-published, 2018. 160 pages.

This is a quick read, but as a book it goes into greater depth than other formats can provide on the topic of showing missionaries you care.

After a brief exploration of what it means to bless someone, the author unpacks more than 100 practical ideas, from the tried-and-true ways supporters blessed her family when she was growing up in Mexico to newer strategies you may not have thought of. It’s seasoned with stories and examples and also offers a gentle dose of how-to detail and tips on what not to do. The author has a blog, FamiliesforMissions.com, though it’s a little sparse.

» Learn more or purchase from Amazon at US$9.95 for the paperback or US$4.99 in the Kindle edition.

» See also Neal Pirolo’s Serving as Senders Today, or check out Mind the Gaps: Engage the Church in Missionary Care (David Wilson) or Well Sent: Reimagining the Church’s Missionary-Sending Process (Steve Beirn).

EVENT: Mobilizer Equipping School

Source: SVM2

Maybe you know your primary calling is to mobilize others—your friends, church, network, or nation—for the Great Commission. But where do you get trained for that? A one-month program in Chiang Mai, Thailand November 3-29 may be just what you need. Apply by mid-September. The cost is US$700, though partial scholarships are available. And they have tracks in several languages.

» Learn more and apply online. By the way, SVM2 is in the midst of taking a name that better communicates what they do. Within a few months they will be the Global Mission Mobilization Initiative.

EVENTS: Conferences, Classes, and Retreats

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

July to August, Beautiful Feet Boot Camp (Choctaw, OK, USA). Missionary training institute. Apply by May 31 (held annually).

July 1-19, Manarah (Detroit, MI, USA). Training for ministry to Muslims, from Christar. An annual event.

July 1 to November 3, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). New classes start regularly, including two in August.

July 8-12, Cubs to Lions (Denver, CO, USA). Discipleship for Christians with a Muslim background; an annual event.

July 14-19, ABIDE re-entry debriefing for global workers (Joplin, MO, USA). Held several times a year.

July 14-19, Debriefing Retreat (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training. Retreats twice a year.

July 22-24, Crisis Management Seminar (Auburn, AL, USA). Provided by Crisis Consulting International; followed by one-day Security Orientation Workshop.

July 15-18, Thrive Retreat (Beaver Creek, CO, USA). For North American women serving cross-culturally; an annual event.

July 19-26, New Wilmington Mission Conference (Western Pennsylvania, USA). Annual, week-long multi-generational mission conference; a tradition for more than 100 years.

July 22 to August 17, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Mission Training International. Courses held throughout the year.

July 22-24, Crisis Management Seminar (Lake George, CO, USA). Provided by Crisis Consulting International; followed by a one-day Security Orientation Workshop.

August 16-17, One More Conference (Rome, GA, USA). Missions conference for professional or lay leaders from any church desiring to attend.

August 28-29, Support Raising Bootcamp (Charlotte, NC, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

» View the complete calendar. Contact us to suggest additions. Want to know more about a specific event? Contact the event organizers.