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WORLD: Do You Know the Basics of Animism?

Source: International Mission Board, September 21, 2018

Animists believe all life is spirit as opposed to matter. Humans have souls, as do animals, insects, plants, bodies of water, rocks, mountains, weather systems, and so on. All are both somewhat good and somewhat evil, but the relevant characteristic is power, not morality.

Souls—also referred to as spirits—are living beings with volition, moods, and the capacity to help or wreak havoc as they are wooed or offended. Spirits that do not inhabit a living being may exist in the form of a god, a personal force, or a ghost.

Animists believe earthly events have spiritual causes. Spirits influence the success or disaster of embodied human beings. Many spirits are easily offended and vindictive. Others feel threatened and defend themselves by harming humans. Upset spirits knock life off balance, causing trouble ranging from headaches to hurricanes.

For this reason, humans show respect to the spirits through ritual, custom, and offerings. Placating spirits restores balance and yields blessing. If cultivated, spirits can be powerful allies against malevolent beings.

It is true that animistic orientation is ancient—the oldest way of seeing the world since Adam’s walk with God. It has held the human imagination through time and remains fresh, renewing itself not only in isolated tribes but also among neopagan youth in the West.

» Full story includes a video, examples, and a biblical response. Looks like IMB is doing a whole series on world religions.

WORLD: Addressing Secularization

Source: Lausanne Global Initiative, September 2018

The Lausanne Global Secularization Initiative addresses the increasing secularization of society around the world, a trend closely tied to the globalization of culture, especially among urban youth.

The emerging Global Youth Culture, connected by consumerism, social media, and the entertainment industry, forms the largest global culture ever to exist. It spans the globe, embracing the same values, listening to the same music, subscribing to the same YouTube channels, and following the same influencers on social media.

This global culture is largely influenced by one predominant worldview—secular humanism—which affirms that God is irrelevant and man is at the center. In this relativistic culture, we are god and consumerism is our religion. This is a generation that does not look to the Church for answers but believes it to be a dead and empty tradition of the past. Either there is no God or, if he exists, he doesn’t interfere with our lives.

The Global Youth Culture presents a unique challenge to missions worldwide because of the large cultural gap that exists between the Church and secularized youth in society. This demographic is not limited to post-Christian regions like Europe or the USA. It is impacting cultures in urban centers of every region of the world, including the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

» Read more.

» Of course some secularizing societies are also experiencing renewal through immigration. See The Unexpected Trend Reviving Canadian Christianity (The Gospel Coalition).

PAKISTAN: World Awaits Asia Bibi Verdict

Sources: Various

This week Supreme Court judges in Pakistan delayed ruling on the final appeal of Asia Bibi who has been on the country’s death row since 2009 on charges of blasphemy. The justices also warned media about commenting on or discussing the case until their detailed verdict is released, though they set no date for its release.

See an article from Mission Network News, as well as two sources it cites, a story from Pakistan source DAWN News and a description of how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are used to persecute Christians (Forgotten Missionaries International).

Readers may also be interested in an update on another high-profile religious liberty case we’ve followed. World Watch Monitor reports that Andrew Brunson’s legal appeal has been sent to Turkey’s highest court.

Thanks for continuing to pray for these Christians and those who persecute them as well as their countries and communities. Don’t forget, it’s almost that time of year again: International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is Sunday, November 4. Voice of the Martyrs is distributing an IDOP video highlighting Christians in Pakistan. See below.

NORTH KOREA: Five Surprising Facts

Source: Open Doors, October 8, 2018

North Korea is famously a difficult place for Christians to live and worship openly. The country has been No. 1 on Open Doors’ World Watch List—the annual list of the places in the world where it’s hardest to follow Jesus—for more than a decade. Tens of thousands of Christians are imprisoned or under arrest for their faith. And yet, that’s not the full story. Christianity and North Korea have a long relationship! So, here are five surprising facts about Christianity in North Korea and how this tightly controlled Communist nation has been impacted by the Christian faith.

» Read more or share this article with your friends.