Missions Catalyst

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NORTH AFRICA: Taxi Rides with Tarek

Source: Frontiers USA, April 4, 2016

I hustled our children into the back seat of the taxi as Kevin climbed in the front seat. “Where are you from?” the driver asked.

“America,” Kevin said. “How about you?”

“I’m from Syria,” the driver responded.

“Oh. I prayed for your country this morning!” Kevin blurted out.

I cringed a little in the back seat at Kevin’s response. What was that emotion in me? Embarrassment? Shame? What did it matter if this taxi driver knew Kevin prayed? Why did I feel like hiding?

It was true after all. Kevin had spent a couple hours that morning, as he often did, in our team’s prayer room. And he had prayed for Syria.

Although I felt sheepish and not very brave about sharing our spiritual lives with this taxi driver, I look back and see that all it took was Kevin’s casual comment, and Tarek, the taxi driver, was hooked. We didn’t know it at the time, but that was the day Tarek’s pursuit of Jesus shifted into high gear…

» Full story is worth reading. Here’s my favorite line: “That first night with his new Bible, Tarek devoured a hundred pages of the Gospels.”

» See also another story about a taxi driver, Listener in Mongolia Becomes Volunteer Broadcaster (FEBC). And don’t forget to pray for the work of God in the Muslim world during Ramadan this year. It begins May 15. Check out resources from Frontiers, Prayercast, and of course 30 Days of Prayer.

MOZAMBIQUE: Tewe People Celebrate New Audio Bible Materials

Source: Mission Network News, April 26, 2018

The Tewe people in central Mozambique have had missionaries come to them for years. Today, about 40 percent of the Tewe people are Christian. However, the Tewe people have no Bible and less than one hour of scripture in audio [form]. Because of their limited access to God’s Word, it is easy for Tewe Christians to mix biblical teachings with the local ethnic religions.

Joshua Harrison with Audio Scripture Ministries says the Tewe people group “is still considered a least-reached people group because there are still some significant cultural strongholds with witchcraft and syncretism. So our team looks at that and says, well, clearly there are some missing tools and access to God’s Word in a form that people can use on a daily basis. That’s why we want to bring that connection to God’s Word in audio [form].”

“We are excited to report that we have over 10 hours of scripture recordings and songs and Bible-engagement materials that we’ve recorded [in the Tewe language] and the community response has been fantastic.”

The process has contained some challenges. The Tewe language is not a written language, which has made it difficult for the team working with local Tewe speakers to translate scripture before they can record.

But God has blessed ASM’s scripture recording efforts in Mozambique. Together with Tewe speakers and musicians, they have completed 18 songs and 50 Bible stories so far.

“The excitement for this is palpable as people hear God’s Word in their heart language. It is really wonderful to see. There is great hunger for the Lord.”

» Read full story. You might also appreciate another MNN story, this one about God’s Word going forth against impossible odds in colonial India.

CHINA: Ban on Online Bible Sales

Source: World Watch Monitor, April 16, 2018

China’s Christians may not be surprised by recent tighter government control of religious affairs, including a ban on online Bible sales. But they are unsure what comes next.

Following [last] month’s announcement that Bibles could no longer be made available online, large websites like Taobao, Jingdong, Weidian, Dangdang, and Amazon China have now stopped selling them. The Catholic news website UCAN reported that “books about Christianity have also been blocked and the business licenses of some shops have been canceled,” and that, according to social media users, websites had started to stop the sale of Bibles as early as March 30.

» Full story provides more context and links to other sources.

BOLIVIA: Sharing the Gospel in Isolated Villages

Source: Pioneers, April 4, 2018

In 2004, Greg and Alex, a father-son team working in Bolivia, came across a man on the road who was holding a little, broken radio. He pleaded with them, “Fix it, it’s my life!” They helped him get the radio repaired and realized it was tuned to a radio station broadcasting in his native language, Quechua.

Greg and Alex had been searching for a way to share the gospel with the people of isolated villages cut off from the rest of civilization during the rainy season. They were amazed to find the radios were made in their native Canada. Since then, they raised funds to purchase and distribute radios that include a Quechua audio translation of the Bible. In the last 10+ years Greg and Alex, along with many short-term workers, have distributed more than 50,000 little red radios.

» Full story includes a photo essay. The video above is actually part 2 in a series. Watch part 1.

CURRICULUM: Worldviews, a Children’s Introduction to Missions

Source: Pioneers

On the lookout for winsome ways to explain world religions to kids or introduce them to missions? Last year Pioneers and Sonlight joined forces to create an intro-to-missions resource for homeschool families. Now Pioneers has revised and relaunched it for broader use. Worldviews is designed to help the whole family enjoy learning and includes several elements:

  • Brief videos about five of the world’s religious communities and God’s heart for the people in those communities are free online for anyone to use. Includes videos about tribal animists, Hindus, the unreligious, Muslims, and Buddhists (often remembered by the acronym THUMB).
  • A free family devotional (downloadable PDF) goes with the videos and a 30-day email guide can help you pray for unreached peoples. A single signup will give you access to both.
  • A high-quality curriculum includes crafts, games, recipes, activities, etc. Purchase one workbook for kids aged 4-9 and/or another one for kids 10-14. Each is about 100 pages long and costs US$16.99.

» Learn more and view, download, or purchase what interests you.

» Not quite what you’re looking for? Check out the many missions resources for kids from Weave.


MUSIC: Songs of Kingdom Hope

Source: Caroline Cobb

Looking for music that tells the big story of redemption? In 2011, singer-songwriter Caroline Cobb gave herself a goal to write a song for every book of the Bible in a year. That year of writing set in motion a new passion to tell the stories of scripture through music.

Her latest work is a theologically rich, lyrical album called A Home and a Hunger: Songs of Kingdom Hope. It “traces the biblical themes of Eden and exile, restlessness and rest, and God’s upside-down kingdom.”

I found this artist through a music video of her song All the Stars, which is about God’s promise to bless the nations through Abraham (see Genesis 22:17-18). The video, below, marks the 25th anniversary of Frontline Mission and includes clips from their documentary series, Dispatches from the Front. You might check that out as well.

» Buy a physical CD for US$10 from the artist’s website or listen wherever you get your music.

FILM: The Breadwinner

Source: Universal Pictures

Enjoy watching and discussing films about people in other cultures? Check out The Breadwinner, an animated film adapted from a best-selling young-adult novel/series by Deborah Ellis. It tells the story of Parvana, a young girl in Afghanistan who disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family. We discovered it through a review of the film from the International Mission Board. This is an animated feature but not for young children.

» Purchase or rent the film in several formats through Amazon. Download a study guide from the film’s website.

BOOKS: A Good Missions Intro?

Source: Missions Catalyst

Brad in Michigan asks, “What book do you recommend to a church when they need a short general intro to missions? Who writes this stuff in a really good way?”

I’m not sure how to answer, though I have some ideas. What are your thoughts? Let’s make a list together.

  1. What timeless classics or gems of today would you commend to Brad?
  2. If you bought one book by the caseload to give out wide and far, what would it be?
  3. What would you give to your elders, pastors, or mission team?
  4. Is there one that would make a good gift for your church’s graduating high school or college seniors this spring?

It’s probably best if these books are not too long, academic, or narrow in focus. Books can’t accomplish their mission if people don’t read them.

» Suggest a book (or second someone else’s suggestion) and tell us why you appreciate it. I’ll compile a short list to share in a future issue.

EVENTS: What’s Coming up in May

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

May 1-3, International Wholistic Missions Conference (Phoenix, AZ, USA). An annual event.

May 3, How Do I Get My Pastor Engaged in Missions? (online). Webinar provided by Missio Nexus.

May 4-5, Without Borders Women’s Conference (Sioux Falls, SD, USA). Training for ministering among Muslim women. Provided by Crescent Project.

May 7 to September 9, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). Also offered June 4 to August 12 and with regular start dates throughout the year.

May 8 to June 6, Mobiles in Mission: Using the Tool in Everyone’s Pocket (online). Mentored course for field workers on leveraging outreach opportunities.

May 12, GOfest Global (Ware, Hertfordshire, UK). An annual missions conference.

May 15 to June 14, 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World (global). An annual prayer campaign.

May 16-17, Interchange Conference (Wayne, PA, USA). From Catalyst Services, bringing together church and agency mission leaders.

May 20, Global Day of Prayer (global). An annual event.

May 20, International Day for the Unreached (global). An annual event.

May 21-22, Personal Support Raising Boot Camp (Brea, CA, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

May 24, Partnership and the Strategic Role of Networks (online). Webinar provided by Missio Nexus.

May 31 to June 2, ACMI Annual Conference (Philadelphia, PA, USA). An annual event from the Association of Christians Ministering to Internationals.