Mind if we pause for a moment (again, for many of us) to thank God for Rick Love, who recently passed away, and pray for Fran and the kids? My life was impacted by Rick in many ways, and perhaps yours was too. I was encouraged and inspired by his life right up to the point I read he’d gone to be with Jesus.
Remember the Loves with me. Remember that death will be defeated. But remember as well that your days are numbered. Mine too. Let’s make them count the way Rick did.
Read a brief bio of Rick (and others you may know) from Missio Nexus.
Since the turn of the year (or decade) is a time of reflection, I’d like to submit to you some gems I’ve found while sleuthing for news.
- First, thanks to Paul Neeley of Global Worship for pointing to this BEAUTIFUL poem. See especially item number 3. I am going to frame this one! Hope you like it.
- We can always count on something thoughtful and challenging from INcontext. Read Just a Minute: 20/20 Vision.
Blessings for 2020 and beyond,
Note: Did you miss our January 1 issue of Missions Catalyst? It included several year-in-review and new-year items and our 2020 events calendar.
In This Issue
- WORLD: Bible 2020
- CHINA: New Measures to Control Religion Begin in February
- TAJIKISTAN: Pastor Freed after Three Years in Prison for Singing Extremist Songs in Church
- SOUTH ASIA: Elderly Peoples’ Fellowship
- MYANMAR: A Loud Bang in the Prayer Room after Eight Buddhists Accept Christ
Like what you read? Share with others!
Source: Scripture Engagement, December 2019
“Imagine a world-wide community speaking the words of the Bible together across towns, cities, and continents. Lives will be changed! Together we will read, speak, and hear the words of the Bible each day.”
Bible 2020 is a year-long campaign encouraging us to speak the words of the Bible aloud across every country and nation. It [began] on January 1st, 2020. To get involved, join the global community using the app.
Bringing together the history of oral Bible tradition and the global reach of modern technology, Scottish Bible Society has developed the Bible2020 App, 366 days of short inspirational Bible verses that you can film yourself speaking and share with your community so that together we can cover the globe in God’s Word through the year. The app will collate the videos and post them on a wall, letting you see and hear the nations speak the words of the Bible.
» See full story with promo video.
» It is also Year of the Bible, an initiative of The Table Coalition (formerly Mission America Coalition), a ministry of Lausanne.
Source: Worthy News, January 1, 2020
China will roll out new measures to further circumscribe the spiritual activities of its citizens on February 1, as state news reported [Monday, December 30] that the 42 articles of the Administrative Measures for Religious Groups had been approved.
The articles, which follow the ratification of the Regulations on Religious Affairs published in 2018 that have [caused] plaques of the ten commandments [to be] replaced by photographs of President Xi Jinping in state-run churches, oversee all a church community’s life, activity, and gatherings.
Article 17 states unequivocally that “religious organizations must spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party…educating religious personnel and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, supporting the socialist system, adhering to and following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
The process of “Sinicization” has already been well underway in state-run Three-Self Patriotic movement churches, with communist officials writing socialist-friendly sermons for pastors and the government reviewing plans to re-translate the Bible with a Chinese socialist edge on the way to creating a new religion.
» See also: For China’s Underground Churches, This Was No Easy Christmas (LA Times). On the other hand, read this: Sudan Celebrates Christmas Publicly for First Time in Ten Years (Middle East Eye).
Source: World Watch Monitor, December 18, 2019
A Protestant pastor sentenced to three years in prison for “singing extremist songs in church and so inciting religious hatred” has been freed three months early.
Kholmatov, who with wife Gulya has three children, was arrested on unspecified charges during an April 2017 raid on his church. Affiliated churches in the Sogd region were also raided and closed down earlier that year.
Kholmatov said, “I’d like to express my huge gratitude to all the people who supported and prayed for me, my family, and my church. All these three years I felt your prayers. They helped me to stand, they helped my precious wife and children, they helped the members of my church who were left without a pastor then [kicked out of] our building. Your prayers helped us to stand strong through all these difficulties, to grow spiritually, and to transform into the nature of our Heavenly Lord! Thank you from all my heart! Glory to God!”
» See also: Tajik Authorities Detain 27 Suspected Members Of Banned Muslim Brotherhood along with an analysis piece, Four Issues Central Asia Faced in 2019 (and They’re Not Going Away) (RFE/RL).
Source: Global Recordings Network, December 2019
Note: Kate is a CMS missionary in South Asia. She recently wrote to GRN about her experience with using GRN’s resources.
Eighteen months ago, we started an elderly people’s fellowship at church. Four days a week 15-20 people over 70 years old meet at the church. Most of them are illiterate, and none of them went to Sunday school as children nor grew up in Christian homes. This group has provided an amazing opportunity to help participants grow deeper into God’s Word in a way that is accessible to them. It’s amazing how much they have grown!
We recently did a series on Joseph. We used the GRN colored pictures to show the story on the wall. The group loved coloring in, because it’s totally new for them. So, each week we also gave them a black and white picture of the story and they colored their own. These were then stuck into an exercise book and they used them to retell the story to each other.
We also used the Joseph excerpt from the “Mighty Men of God” audio-visual presentation. They enjoyed the 10-minute overview of the Joseph story. They loved this way of learning from the Bible and have asked that we do the same again but with other series. We are planning to show Exodus next.
» Full story with pictures and check out the GRN Bible Picture pack and other teaching resources available for purchase.
Source: God Reports, December 27, 2019
On a Christian medical and dental mission to Myanmar (Burma), a large number of Buddhists showed up for free medical attention. Some also visited a prayer room adjoining the clinic, which led to an unusual incident that seemed [to those present] to signal a clash in the spiritual realm.
Senior Pastor Mark Morrow, from Crosswalk Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, was in the prayer room and witnessed the remarkable occurrence. [He] down and couldn’t believe his eyes. It was a heavy mahogany or teak table, very sturdily built, that had cracked from one end to the other.
“I was the closest one to that table. My shins were two inches away,” he recounts. “The table cracked in front of me. There wasn’t a temperature change, no weight on the table. As soon as the Buddhists said ‘Dear Jesus’ and said that prayer to accept him, the table popped. The Burmese people jumped. They saw something tangible had happened.”
Pastor Morrow believes the physical manifestation resulted from a battle in the spiritual realm for the hearts of the people—that God raised a standard against the enemy. “The spirit of God just broke the back of whatever demonic forces were holding those people back,” he concludes.
We’re seeing many articles about the best, worst, most significant, or most overlooked [whatever] of the last year… or the decade. But here are a few I want to make sure you don’t miss.
- Best Mission Books of 2019, from our friends at Catalyst Services. Is there something to add to your to-be-read list?
- Prayercast’s 2019 year in review video; see below. God still reigns, a fact worth remembering as we anticipate 2020.
Speaking of 2020, you might want to take a look at the following:
- Ten Ways to Focus on the Great Commission this Year, from Everywhere2everywhere. Great stuff.
- Focusing on Goals for 2020, by Shane Bennett, which we published in November. We’re praying for renewed vision (along with guidance and wisdom) for mission mobilizers worldwide. Yes, you!
Finally, as you look ahead, visit the Missions Catalyst events calendar, now updated. See below for who’s planning what for January and February or visit our website to find events throughout the year. And please let me know what we’ve missed.
Each year Prayercast provides a short, poignant, and powerful video that looks back over the year’s global events. Here’s the latest.
» To get off to a good start in praying for the world in the new year, take a look at Prayercast prayer plans.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
January 6 to February 1, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided regularly by Missionary Training International.
January 6 to April 5, Encountering the World of Islam (online). Embracing Muslims with the love of Christ. Online classes launch a few times a year.
January 9, The Heart of the Father, God’s Vision for the World (online). Free “nugget” training from Beyond; part of a series.
January 9, The People Group Paradigm in 2020 (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
January 9, Short-Term Leaders and Field Security Workshop (Sanford, FL, USA). Prepare to live, work, and travel in high-risk environments. Followed by an Interrogation Management Workshop, January 10. Provided by Crisis Consulting International.
January 12 to February 7, Equipping for Cross-Cultural Life and Ministry (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.
January 13 to May 17, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). Additional classes start January 20, February 3, and almost monthly after that. Live classes also begin this month across the US and elsewhere, and the first of several week-long intensives.
January 16, Prayer Training: Connecting with God (online). Free training provided by Beyond.
January 17-18, Mission ConneXion (Tualatin, OR, USA). Free, annual mission conference for all ages.
January 22-23, Support Raising Bootcamp (Plano, TX, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions. These happen nearly every month, each time in a different city.
January 23, Reading in 360 Degrees (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
January 27 to April 7, School of Global Harvest (Chiang Mai, Thailand). From the Global Mission Mobilization Initiative; annual.
January 31 to February 1, Missions Fest Vancouver (Vancouver, BC, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.
January 31 to February 1, Santa Barbara Mission Conference (Santa Barbara, CA, USA). An annual event.
February 2-7, ABIDE re-entry debriefing for global workers (Joplin, MO, USA). Offered regularly by TRAIN International.
February 3-4, Support Raising Bootcamp (Brea, CA, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.
February 7-9, Missionfest Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.
February 9-21, Second Language Acquisition Course (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided regularly by the Center for Intercultural Training.
February 10-11, A Consultation on Mission Agency Church Engagement (online). Hosted by Missio Nexus and Wycliffe Bible Translators.
February 13 to March 13, Foundations of Media to Movements (online). Training course from Mission Media U.
February 19 to March 18, Story in Ministry (online). Mentored course by Mission Media U on applying elements of story to your outreach.
February 20-21, Standards Introductory Workshop (Clackamas, OR, USA). Training in the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission; this one connected to the Mission ConneXion short-term mission event in the same location.
February 20, Frontier People Groups (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.
February 21-22, Short-term ConneXion (Clackamas, OR, USA).
February 21-22, Midwest Conference on Missionary Care (Roseville, MN, USA). An annual event.
February 21-23, Missions Fest Alberta (Edmonton, AB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.
February 23-28, Debriefing Retreat (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided regularly by the Center for Intercultural Training.
February 23-29, Business as Mission Course (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Intensive Training from YWAM’s BAM Resource Team.
February 24-27, Thrive Retreat (Dubrovnik, Croatia). For North American women serving cross-culturally.
February 24 to March 4, Parenting Third Culture Kids (online). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.
February 24 to March 21, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided regularly by Missionary Training International.
February 26 to April 5, Seek God for the City (global). Annual prayer campaign coordinated by Seek God for the City.
» View complete calendar. Suggestions and submissions welcome.
If you are a bit last-minute like me you might find Tearfund’s 25 Ideas for an Ethical Christmas just the ticket to help you catch up! You might also be interested in reading about the Christian roots of the fair-trade movement (Christianity Today; preview only). Did you know Ten Thousand Villages was the first fair-trade organization in the world? Let me suggest a similar organization, ECHO in South Florida. See their Christmas page if you’d like to shop.
Feeling super stressed? It might be a good time to read A Lost Screwtape Letter (Dated in December) from The Gospel Coalition. Or take my advice and spend 30 minutes watching the pilot episode of a new show about the life of Christ, The Chosen.
My news reader is full of stories of protests (Hong Kong, Lebanon, Iraq, and India) and reports of religious persecution. The night of our “dear Savior’s birth” heaven announced “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” I have come to see the angels’ pronouncement not as a declaration but an invitation. As Charles Wesley wrote, “Joyful, all ye nations rise. Join the triumph of the skies…” the invitation is going out and…the nations ARE rising!
Peace to you and yours,
Source: International Mission Board, December 16, 2019
This month, Myanmar believers in South Thailand are hard at work. They are few in number compared to many churches, but their dedication to share the gospel story this season is unwavering. Three small churches, planted to reach factory workers, band together in December to share the Christmas story through music, drama, food, and fellowship. This will be their third year to produce the outreach events.
They can only plan events on Sunday, because that’s when factories are closed. Many of the believers work 12-hour shifts, six days a week, and then work through the night as the Sunday events approach. They will feed and give small gifts to hundreds of people who attend the events, using a portion of their $9/day salaries that they have faithfully set aside for this effort.
Please pray for the next evangelistic event planned for December 22, 2019. In addition to singing Christmas carols, the Myanmar Christians will perform a nativity drama and tell the Christmas story from the Bible. They also prepare and feed everyone who comes to the event and give them a small gift. The gifts and food also serve as a strong incentive for people to come. They recognize that this season, non-believers are often curious about Christmas and will come to an event to find out more.
Source: OMF International, December 13, 2019
Last Christmas morning, Esther and I had a young man, Andrew, and his younger sister, Dawn [over to our house] for breakfast.
They grew up in a nomadic herding family, but Dawn was now in her final year of nursing school. After breakfast and our sharing about shepherds and uniqueness of the manger, she asked if she could share something with us.
Looking serious, she thoughtfully reflected,
“I remember when you came to our home and shared Jesus! I was just a little girl! You see the fruit of your prayer now! I am a Christian and my brother is studying to be a pastor! God cares for us, like he did the shepherds!”
A few times Dawn was so overwhelmed by God’s grace in her life that she could not speak and started crying. She said she thinks God may be calling her to work one day with children with disabilities and has been volunteering through the Christian Nurses Association.
Indeed, years ago we shared the gospel with Andrew and Dawn’s parents, not paying much attention to their children in the background. Andrew was often out tending the goats. Andrew listened to us and also read the gospel booklet that we had given to his parents. He prayed to trust in Jesus for his salvation.
In time both Andrew and Dawn went to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, to study, and they are both active in church. He is studying at Union Bible Theological College and hopes to serve in his remote home county. He has already completed his compulsory year of military service. Dawn completed nursing school and the national nursing exam, and currently works at a hospital. Andrew teaches guitar to Kazakh youth. Over our Christmas breakfast we had talked about possible ways they could share Jesus’ love with those around them.
» Read full story and praise God for the growth of the Church in Mongolia, most over the course of a single generation.
Source: Mission Network News, December 13, 2019
India has introduced a new law re-determining who qualifies for citizenship. In a way, the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) is a legal manifestation of growing sentiment in India that says to be Indian is to be Hindu. Both this law and mindset clash with India’s setup as a supposedly secular government.
Providing more details on the topic is a spokesperson for Voice of the Martyrs, USA, Todd Nettleton.
“Well, this is an interesting law because it grants people from Pakistan, people from Bangladesh, who have come into India, citizenship as long as they are not Muslims, which are the majorities in those countries. And so, it is something that is basing citizenship simply on religion, and so there have been protests,” Nettleton says.
Both Muslims and Hindus have taken to streets expressing their disapproval for the new law.
» Religions in India in order of percent of the population are Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, then Sikhism. Want to know more about Sikhs? Check out The Edmonton Appeal (Lausanne Movement).
Source: Open Doors, December 16, 2019
A bus attack by the Islamic extremist group al Shabaab in Kenya has claimed ten lives. Reportedly, the militant group claimed responsibility for the attack in which they separated the “local” (Muslims) and “non-local” (non-Muslims) passengers before executing ten non-locals, including several police officers.
The bus was traveling from the Kenyan cities of Wajir and Mandera near the Somalian border—an area mostly inhabited by ethnic Somali Kenyans.
Amani, an Open Doors team leader in the field, reported that one of Open Doors’ local ministry partners called after the attack.
“They have attacked us again as usual,” the partner said.
Sadly, Christians have come to expect violent attacks like this as they head into holiday seasons, such as Christmas or Easter, Amani explained. While media outlets have been slow to specifically say Christians were targeted in this attack, Amani offers perspective from being on the ground in Kenya.
» Full story reports claims that some politicians are seeking to eliminate Christianity in Kenya. Let’s pray for an end to this kind of violence.
» Even as believers worldwide look forward to the holiday, some may be in particular danger at this time. We read that Indonesia has boosted Christmas security over potential terror threats (France24). An opinion piece from Foreign Policy Association asks: Where is the outrage over the plight of persecuted Christians?