Missions Catalyst

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DEVOTIONS: YouVersion Reading Plans

Source: YouVersion

Looking for devotional material or Bible studies for your mission team? Here’s a free and easy alternative to creating or purchasing them. The YouVersion Bible app offers hundreds of daily reading plans for your phone or mobile device, some with daily devotionals from a variety of ministries and organizations. You should be able to find one that is the right length and focus for you or your group. A few caught my eye:

  • Discover Your Role in God’s Mission (7 days, Southeast Christian Church). Discover God’s heart for the nations and your role in helping finish the task of global evangelism.
  • God Use Me—Devotions for Your Mission Trip (10 days, Compassion International). Use this plan as your pre-trip planning and post-trip debrief. You’ll find helpful Scripture, insightful commentary from experienced trip leaders, and thought-provoking prayers. Use journaling and discussion questions to dig deeper.
  • Helping without Hurting: The Bible and the Poor (10 days, The Chalmers Center). Explore the depth of God’s concern for the poor and what it might look like for you to answer that call in your own life.

You’ll have to download the app, set up an account, and be logged in to browse the plans. Readers, what other plans would you suggest?

» Comment on this article on our website or Facebook page.

TRAINING: What US Colleges Teach Missions?

Source: Cappex, via Brigada Today

Cappex.com did a study of 137 schools [colleges and universities] in the US offering missions classes and a missiology major. You can filter results by tuition costs, college type, and state (location). You can see stats about the number of students, campus life, and even your chances of getting admitted. In many cases, there are personal reviews and even tweets and pictures. You can also see if the college is affiliated with a certain denomination and, in most cases, start your application directly from the listings. And in some cases, Cappex has negotiated scholarships with the college if you apply through the Cappex site.

» Learn more. Thanks, Cappex and Brigada! The August 12 edition of Brigada Today highlighted a number of resources worth knowing about.

» Editor’s note: Mission training may take many forms. Don’t dismiss the value of more secular degrees and/or experiential training.

DOCUMENTARY: Our Man in Tehran

Source: PBS Frontline

Iran watchers might be interested in this: Thomas Erdbrink is one of the last Western journalists living in Iran. In this two-part series, he takes viewers on a rare journey into a private Iran often at odds with its conservative clerics and leaders. Iranians share their stories, hopes, and fears with him over the course of four years of filming.

I haven’t watched this yet, but a like-minded friend raves, “This was SO good! You will laugh and you will cry, but most of all, it will make you fall in love with the wonderful people of Iran!”

You may be able to watch the documentary online or on your local PBS station/app if you’re in the US. Available on DVD in October.

» Learn more.

» Readers, what other cultural films and documentaries (from a Christian perspective or otherwise) do you recommend? Comment on this article on our website or Facebook page.

EVENTS: Coming up in September

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

September 3-14, Great Commission Leadership Institute (Chiang Mai, Thailand). Provided by SVM2.

September 3-16, ORIENT (Joplin, MO, USA). Missionary training.

September 3 to January 6, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). New classes start nearly every month.

September 6, A Missionary Pipeline for your Church (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

September 6-8, Multiply: Disciple-making Movements Summit (Wheaton, IL, USA). Organized by the Ephesus Partnership.

September 10-14, Global Member Care Network Conference (Quito, Ecuador). Bilingual in English and Spanish.

September 10 to October 6, COMPASS Prefield Training (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Provided by Missionary Training International multiple times a year.

September 10 to December 9, Encountering the World of Islam (online).

September 13, Spirituality in Cross-Cultural Mission (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

September 13-14, Support Raising Bootcamp (Vancouver, WA, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

September 13 to October 11, Foundations of Media Strategy (online). Mentored course on using social media for deeper conversations and disciple-making, from Mission Media U.

September 17-18, International Orality Network Annual Conference (Orlando, FL, USA). Followed by Simply the Story Orality Training.

September 19-20, Standards Introductory Workshop (Orlando, FL, USA). Presented by Standards of Excellence in Short-term Missions.

September 19-25, Traction (Wilderswil, Switzerland). Renewal conference for men serving cross-culturally.

September 19 to October 17, Introduction to Story in Ministry (online). Mentored course to better communicate the message of Christ (oral, written, or filmed), from Mission Media U.

September 20-22, Missio Nexus Annual Conference (Orlando, FL, USA). Includes lots of side meetings this time; check it out.

September 21-23, Business as Mission Conference (Philadelphia, PA, USA).

September 28-29, People Raising Conference (Oak Brook, IL, USA). Be equipped for raising personal support.

» View the complete calendar. Please let us know about mistakes or omissions. For more details, contact the event organizers.

Can they find freedom in Christ? | World News Briefs

Will you join 100,000 believers from around the world for three days of prayer and fasting (August 19-21) for the 2+ million Muslims on Hajj (August 19-24)?

Greetings,

Before our next edition of news briefs, the annual hajj pilgrimage will have come and gone, so I don’t want to miss this opportunity to offer you fuel for prayer for the pilgrims and for ministry to Muslims in general.

For a good introduction, see First Friday Prayer for the Muslim World: Hajj and the Festival of Sacrifice (SEND International). SEND is one of some 180 mission agencies banding together to ask God to draw 10 percent of the world’s Muslims to himself in the next ten years. Will you pray with them?

Pat

 

 

 

MUSLIM WORLD: Freedom in Christ

Source: Bridging the Divide, July 27, 2018

Last month over forty of us gathered to discuss various facets of freedom in Christ, especially as they relate to those coming to faith in him from a Muslim background. We had a substantial and informative time together, in some cases finding more agreement than we had expected. A summary of our interaction can be found on our Core Documents page, and many of the pre-readings and presentations can be found on the BtD 2018 page. Other readings and presentations cannot be shared publicly, but we trust the Lord will use this treasure chest of information for bringing spiritual freedom to many more, for his glory.

» Read full story. I’d love to see someone use the five affirmations in the conclusion of the report to create some prayer points for the whole church. Any takers?

NIGERIA: Behind the Fulani Herdsmen-Farmers Conflict

Source: World Watch Monitor, August 9, 2018

The ongoing deadly clashes between the nomadic, mainly Muslim Fulani herdsmen and the predominantly Christian farming communities of Nigeria’s Middle Belt are often referred to in the mainstream media as “farmer-herder clashes.” The Middle Belt is a farming region, and the advancing Fulani-owned herds have increasingly encroached on croplands.

However, attacks by herder militia now occur with such frequency and apparent organization that the characterization as “communal clashes” no longer seems adequate.

Human rights groups have accused Nigeria’s government and its president, Muhammadu Buhari, of failing to deal with the conflict. An International Crisis Group report has pointed out impunity as one of the root causes of the continuing violence.

Here, World Watch Monitor explains the history of the conflict and why, in recent years, the herders, who once lived peacefully alongside their Christian neighbors, have been responsible for more bloodshed than Boko Haram.

» Read full story and watch the six-minute video.

» Also: Could the Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram Be Related? (Mission Network News) and Boko Haram Horror Leads to Life (Assembly of God).

PHILIPPINES: A Sharia State for Mindanao

Source: Barnabas Fund, July 31, 2018

The government of the Philippines is to push ahead with the formal creation of a fully-autonomous region in Muslim-dominated Mindanao, which will include allowing elements of sharia (Islamic) law.

President Duterte is expected to sign the Bangsamoro [Organic] Law later this week. The law, which has been in discussions since 2014, will establish an autonomous region on the southern island of Mindanao. Elements of sharia law are to be incorporated into the justice system.

The Bangsamoro area has a sizeable non-Muslim population. Although it is claimed sharia law elements are expected to only be applicable to Muslims, its incorporation effectively creates an Islamic sub-state within a secular, pluralistic and mainly-Christian country.

The proposal for an autonomous region was included in a peace deal agreed between the government and Muslim rebel groups in 2013, but its implementation has been delayed by successive governments.

» Read full story.

» This bill was indeed signed, though—as a more positive report on this topic points out—the road ahead may be a tough one (Al Jazeera). World Watch Monitor reports some of the responses of Christians.

INDIA: Anti-Conversion Laws Could Be Repealed

Source: Global Christian News, July 18, 2018

Decades-old anti-conversion laws which were targeted against Christians could be repealed in the north Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh.

The state’s Chief Minister, Pema Khandu, told journalists that the legislation “could undermine secularism and is probably targeted towards Christians.”

The law, officially called the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, was introduced in Arunachal Pradesh in 1978. It imposed a fine of 10,000 Rupees and potential one-year jail term for those who converted or attempted to convert a person through “force or by inducement or by any fraudulent means.” Although the law was aimed to prevent what is known as “forced conversion,” it has been used to target Christian evangelists seeking to share their faith.

The welcome announcement from the Arunachal Pradesh government is a marked contrast to what is happening in other Indian states, where several regional governments have either introduced or are planning introduce similar anti-conversion laws.

» Read full story.

» See also reports of Christians in Uttar Pradesh arrested during prayer after their Hindu neighbors, whose daughter was healed by such prayers, converted to Christianity (Morning Star News). Anti-conversion laws are expected to go into effect in Nepal this month, as well.

USA: Teen Rescued from Trafficking by Postal Worker

Source: Christian Headlines, August 7, 2018

Crystal Allen was found by a postal worker [in Sacramento, California] when she escaped her trafficker’s vehicle on June 8. The 16-year-old was found hiding behind a bush, sobbing, according to Ivan Crisostomo:

“I hear this crying, this really bad crying. So, I went around behind this large, bush-like thing, [a] large tree, and saw this young lady,” he told KCRA 3 [a local television station]. “The girl kept saying, ‘They are coming to get me. They are coming to get me.’ I said, ‘Don’t worry, nobody is going to get you. I’m here for you.’”

Allen was reportedly lured from her group home by a friend into the hands of the captors. KCRA 3 reports, “She was held captive for three months. During that time, she was drugged, beaten, and sexually assaulted.” Allen had been unable to escape, stating that she was often tied to chairs and that there were guard dogs on the premises and people who prevented her (and others) from leaving.

When she was found by Crisostomo, Allen was “in a panic,” according to the postal worker. He eventually persuaded Allen to call her mother and tell her she was all right:

“She was frantic. I didn’t know what was going on,” Allen’s mother said, “I couldn’t even understand her she was so upset and that’s when I told her she had to reach out to someone for safety and she gave the phone to Ivan and he instantly kicked into gear and told me that he would save my daughter.”

» Read full story and pray for this young woman and others like her.

» Did you know Sunday, September 23 is Anti-Human Trafficking Day of Prayer? Learn more or download materials (Salvation Army of Canada).

» See also Is Tbilisi the New Capital for Iranian Sex Workers? (Iran Wire).

Encouraging Developments | Practical Mobilization

Greetings!

Solomon says good news from a far-off land is like water to a weary soul (Proverbs 25). Could you use some? Me too.

This month I want to share with you some developments my friend Robby Butler is seeing as he looks at God’s work around the planet. Robby has spent decades studying the promises of God’s Word, looking at the ways those promises are being fulfilled, and calling believers to participate in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Read on to see why Robby thinks we have reason for great hope in these days.

Give your soul a drink!
Shane

Encouraging Developments

By Robby Butler

Behind the global turmoil that preoccupies so much of the world’s attention, God is quietly reaping the greatest spiritual harvest in history, while preparing an even greater harvest.

And at the center of this global outpouring is prayer, along with the intentional pursuit of movements, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to motivate and equip disciples and small churches to reproduce rather than just gather believers to receive ministry.

Following are the most significant developments I have seen over the past year in this global revolution with links to related resources. Suggestions for improving or expanding this list are welcome.

1. Focused Prayer

In May of 2017, global prayer network leaders met with mission leaders to focus prayer on the remaining missionary task. This has birthed a growing global focus on prayer for movements to complete the Great Commission. Watch an inspiring video.

2. Closure Focus

Shortly after this focus on prayer, the 24:14 Coalition formed—dedicated to pursuing movements of rapidly multiplying small churches and disciples in every remaining unreached people and place by 2025. Read about the coalition or watch a video update.

3. New Awareness

The trust environment created by formation of the 24:14 Coalition led many movement leaders to share with each other what God was doing. This jumped the April 2017 estimate (162 movements with 20 million new disciples) to a 2017 year-end confidence of nearly 650 movements with 50 million new disciples. (I detailed this new awareness in a Mar/Apr 2018 Mission Frontiers article, which I later revised and posted here.)

4. Rediscovery of Movements Strategy

The July/August 2018 Mission Frontiers is dedicated to revealing the pivotal relevance to movement practitioners of the parable Jesus himself entitled “The Parable of the Sower” (Matthew 13:18). We have often misunderstood and misapplied this parable to be teaching us what kind of soil or seed we should be, when in fact it points to the strategy Jesus modeled as a sower. Read the articles.

5. Refugee Dynamics

God is using the global refugee crisis to bring blessing to peoples that were previously isolated from the gospel. (Read observations from our 2017 participation in refugee ministry in Europe).

6. Family Blessing

Movements—the Word of God blessing families and other relational networks—are an important corrective to the tendency of most evangelism and church planting efforts to focus on individuals without regard for their family relationships. I excerpted two books on this for the Mar/Apr 2016 Mission Frontiers. My friend Chuck White drafted an article correcting a common misuse of scripture to win individuals away from their families. I hope to have this expanded to a clarification that God’s intent to bless families is the foundation for discipling nations.

7. Fear Exposed

Satan’s hold over most unreached peoples is partly through their fear that Christianity will tear apart their families and communities. Evangelism that pulls individuals away from their families compounds this fear. Movements correct this problem by blessing families. At the September 2017 meeting of the International Society of Frontier Missiology, I presented an adaptation of McGavran’s article explaining this dynamic. Read an updated version.

8. Disparity Recognized

India has long received only the prayer and laborers proportionate to its classification as a country, while in fact India has a larger population and more complexity than most continents. While most countries receive an average of one missionary for every thousand people in their unreached people groups, India receives only one missionary per 46,000. India is home to nearly half the population of all unreached people groups and has more complexity and need than all of Africa. Awareness of this disparity of needs and resources is stimulating increased prayer and efforts toward starting movements on the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). Here’s the data.

9. Frontier People Groups

In early 2018, the concept of frontier people groups (less than one Christian family of any kind per 1,000 families) brought fresh clarity to the remaining task. Read about frontier people groups.

10. Prayer Focus Continued

God continues stirring global prayer for movements among the largest remaining frontier people groups. A small team of global prayer network leaders has pulled together a 31-day prayer guide for the largest frontier people groups (revision in process).

11. Reliance on the Holy Spirit

Steve Smith’s Spirit Walk: The Extraordinary Power of Acts for Ordinary People reintroduces the ancient fruitfulness of following the Holy Spirit’s leading in the pursuit of movements.

12. Movement Training Hubs

The 24:14 Coalition update in the July/Aug 2018 Mission Frontiers reports on the significant development of intentional movement training hubs to accelerate the equipping of more disciples to start movements among peoples that most need them.

13. Annual Increase of Believers

If the data I am now studying is correct, for the first time in history the annual population increase of believers will soon surpass the annual increase of non-believers, and shortly thereafter the number of non-believers in the world will start decreasing. See my draft chapter for an upcoming book on the 24:14 Coalition.

Never in history has the Holy Spirit prompted such global collaboration in focused prayer and labor toward biblical, multiplying discipleship among the peoples and places still waiting in darkness.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).

Again, I welcome your suggestions for improving or expanding this list.

Thank you, Robby, for this great list. And thank you, God, for the way you are at work in our day bringing the abundant life of Jesus to all peoples.

Adapted from Extraordinary Global Kingdom Developments, June 24, 2018.

THAILAND: Church Gathers to Praise God for Cave Rescue

Source: Compassion International, July 20, 2018

Christians from all around the Chaing Rai District of northern Thailand gathered on Sunday, July 22, to praise God for the dramatic rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach after they were trapped for two weeks in a flooded cave system. One of the boys who was rescued is Adun, who is sponsored through Compassion Thailand.

The majority of the soccer team participated in a Buddhist ceremony on July 24, but Adun chose to worship God at a special thanksgiving service held at the Compassion partner church he attends.

Local governors, officers and those who participated in rescue operations attended the service to thank God for the safe return of the Wild Boar soccer team. During the thanksgiving service, Adun shared a moving testimony with those gathered of what it was like to be in the cave.

“By the tenth night, we were losing patience, hope, physical energy, and courage. We could not do anything to help. The only thing that I could do was pray. I prayed ‘Lord, I’m only a boy; you are almighty God, you are holy, and you are powerful. Right now I can’t do anything; may you protect us. Come to help all 13 of us.’

“Thank you to everybody who prayed for me and the whole team,” Adun said. “Thank you to everybody that helped us, and the last thank you [goes] to the Lord: Thank you God. God bless you all.”

» Read full story.

» Blogger Jen Oshman suggests child sponsorship is one of the best things we can do to help those in need before the next tragedy strikes. Also, from neighboring Malaysia, read about the Christian recently appointed top judge, a first for that country (Barnabas Fund).

WORLD: These Vacation Paradises Are No Holiday for Christians

Source: Open Doors, July 27, 2018

This beautiful world God created is full of surprises to discover, hidden beauty to explore and unique people to meet. However, in some of the most beautiful places in the world—our brothers and sister in Christ struggle daily with persecution.

Did you know that popular “resort” destinations like Brunei consider the Bible an illegal book? And in the Maldives, where the water is so beautiful it was used as a location in a Star Wars movie, there isn’t even a Bible published in the native language.

Some of the most popular vacation destinations and beach paradises have extreme levels of Christian persecution. On the surface, these countries might boast beautiful scenery, well-oiled tourist industries and colorful culture, but underneath there’s a secret war going on for religious freedom you should know about.

» Full story includes pictures and links.

ETHIOPIA: Man Unable to Speak or Walk Healed by God

Source: God Reports, July 27, 2018

An Ethiopian man who suffered great torment for eight years found healing in Jesus, according to a church planter affiliated with New Covenant Missions.

“Tesfaye had been possessed by an evil spirit and been unable to speak or walk,” the church planter recounted. [His wife] requested prayer for her husband, even though they were not Christians.

“We started praying fervently to the Lord Jesus to heal him from whatever was oppressing him… Just then the evil spirit that possessed Tesfaye shouted very loudly and went out of him in the name and power of the Lord Jesus Christ!”

“Then we explained to the couple about the Lord Jesus and His love for them. We also explained to them about Satan who wants to destroy us, rob us of our joy and health, and that he is the enemy of our souls. We told them Jesus has crushed the power of Satan by living a sinless life and dying for our sins on the cross then rising from the grave.”

“Right then both husband and the wife stood up asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. Immediately Tesfaye began to speak and to walk!”

» Read full story which originally appeared here.

» Eritrean Christians and human rights advocates are cheering the release of 35 Christian prisoners as a new peace pact between Eritrea and Ethiopia takes hold this month (Religious News Service).

RWANDA: More Than 8,000 Churches Closed by Government

Source: World Watch Monitor, July 27, 2018

The Rwanda Governance Board continues to close churches it says fail to meet requirements laid down at the beginning of the year. New requirements set in place for those congregations that want to continue ministry are also complicating efforts to comply.

According to a report by Rwanda’s pro-government KT Press, more than 8,000 churches have now been closed, and the number keeps growing.

This law is being enforced even though it has not yet been approved officially. In most cases it is almost impossible for churches to make the required changes within the given timeframe of 15 days.

» Full story includes links to related news and reports a marked increase in government secularism as well as fear among church leaders. A story from Baptist Press says that 1,100 of the closed churches have reopened.

MALI: A Christian on the Run

Source: Open Doors, July 25, 2018

Naomi [and her sisters] were born into a devout Egyptian Muslim family in Mali. Their father had moved from Egypt to Timbuktu to spread Islam. When Naomi was eight, her father died, and the girls were adopted by their uncle. He enrolled them in an international Christian school, a common practice for Muslims who desired good educations for their children.

As Naomi interacted with Christians at school, she found herself drawn to Christ, and at the age of 12, she professed him as Lord. Her life would never be the same.

Almost immediately, her family disowned her. When a local missionary family heard about Naomi’s situation, they took her into their home.

“They loved me like their own daughter,” says Naomi. “From them, I learned more about Christ and grew in my faith.”

Eventually, the missionaries had to return to their home country, leaving Naomi with no option but to ask her family to take her back. She remembers how each day, they cruelly harassed her for her faith.

When she was 16, Naomi met a Christian man from Belgium and agreed to marry him.

“I hoped very much that this would be the beginning of new things,” she says. But the persecution continued.

“Whenever I went around town, people would call me a kafir (which means infidel). But for me, the hardest thing to handle was the rejection from my family. When they saw me, they would spit in my direction and curse the blood we shared.”

“More than once, my family sent jihadists to my house to kill us (or at least intimidate us),” she says. “Their plans never worked. But one day, while my husband was on a business trip, he was gunned down. He was killed for his faith, and for marrying an ex-Muslim. His colleagues delivered the terrible news to me. I have no idea what happened to his body.”

After his death, Naomi, now a young widow, somehow managed to care for her two sons—alone. But in 2012, as Muslim jihadists used the political Tuareg Rebellion as an opportunity to wreak havoc, things took a turn for the worst.

» Full story includes prayer points and reports that Open Doors is trying to find a viable business venture for Naomi to help her provide for her family.

» In addition to a cultural shift towards intolerance, Mali recently closed 750 schools, affecting thousands of children (Partners International). Mali had presidential elections on July 29 (AP News).

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