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Ten Ways Pastors Can Help Their People Think and Act like Jesus Toward Muslims

By Shane Bennett

Pastors, I honestly don’t know what it’s like to walk in your shoes. Back in college, I pastored a church of a dozen people. Elderly saints they were but with a remarkable propensity not to die. So I preached, and I dodged the rest of the pastoral duties. I never faced the stresses you do with budgets and staff and people who come to you with intractable problems, hoping you’ve got a silver bullet to spare.

Nor have I been in your place with goofballs saying, “Hey, your church should do more with Muslims!” Maybe that feels like a burden you’d rather let go. Maybe you have some personal anxiety about Islam or you can already feel the pushback that will come if you lead your flock toward engagement with Muslims.

Here’s why it might be worthwhile anyway:

  1. Islam is a big deal. Over 1.5 billion people are Muslims, with a huge number being added every day. And Islam is talked about like crazy in America and all over the place.
  2. Your people, at least some of them, are wondering how Christians should respond to this.
  3. God, mostly on the down low, is inviting Muslims into his kingdom these days like we have never seen before. This might be the sort of harvest you don’t want to miss out on.

If the Holy Spirit nudges you in this direction, I’d like to make it as easy as possible to obey, with ideas both for “knowing” and “doing” and with varying costs in time and money.

Not a pastor but know one? If you think it might bless them, please send this along. Tell them you’d like them to read it, and understand if they can’t get to it right away.

Ten Ways to Get Started

1. Add to a sense of Muslims’ lostness an understanding that God wants to find them in great numbers.

You probably don’t have to convince your people that Muslims are lost. Most evangelical Christians agree. They might not be thinking as much, though, that God has in mind to gather great numbers of them into his kingdom, that every blessing we enjoy is meant for them, and that the blood of Jesus shed on the cross works redemption for them with the same wonderful efficacy with which it does for us.

2. Share winsome stories of Muslim-Christian interactions.

While evil has certainly been done in the name of Islam and good Muslims have done very bad things, there’s more to the story than that. Negative news makes it hard to imagine that Christians can connect with them. Read this short, surprising story as a counterexample.

3. Highlight similarities between Muslims and Christians.

Sometimes, whether intentionally or subconsciously, we try to keep Muslims at arm’s length as being “other.” In doing so, we might fall prey to thinking, as a woman at my church once told me, “We are completely different in every way!” That’s just not true. Your people need to know this.

I probably go overboard in the other direction, happy that a typical Muslim and I both believe in just one God and both think Jesus was born miraculously of a virgin, is alive today, and could take Chuck Norris in a one-on-one match. Generally, we also believe that abortion is a bad thing, kids are a good thing, Jesus is coming back, and devotion to God should be above all else. Not bad starting points from which to invite Muslims back to the faith of their forbearers.

4. Read and encourage others to read material that prioritizes engagement over fear and defense.

I know, I know. Everyone wants to give the pastor a book. Or ten. Here are two that will help you think in good ways about engaging Muslims and give you tools to pass along to your crew: Muslims, Christians, and Jesus by Carl Medearis and Connecting with Muslims by Fouad Masri. Both are practical and accessible. If you’ve already blown your book budget for the year and can only give this a few minutes a week, I’d be honored to have you read my 300-word weekly email, Muslim Connect. It’s designed to help normal Christians think about Muslims the way God does and love them like Jesus does.

5. Host a seminar on Islam.

Crescent Project offers a quick look at Islam and how to befriend Muslims in a weekend seminar or DVD-based curriculum. Encountering the World of Islam is a twelve-week course based on understanding Muslims. I’ve seen them lead to lives better ready to serve God among Muslims near and far.

6. Encourage your people to connect with international students and refugees.

In any town with a sizable university, someone organizes care and connection for international students (Muslims and others). Find this person. Give them three minutes on the platform in early August to tell your people how they can befriend future leaders from other countries arriving next week. Decide together that they won’t return home without enjoying a dinner in an American home. Be the first to sign up.

Someone in your town also knows what’s up with refugees. Same story. If you don’t know how to find these people, shoot me an email and I’ll give you a hand.

7. Endorse a church-wide commitment to pray for Muslims during Ramadan.

Each year around a million Christians worldwide will use the same beautiful little book to pray for Muslims during Ramadan, their month of fasting. Order copies for your people. Ramadan next occurs May 15 to June 14.

8. Audit the “Muslim impact” of your missions budget.

Are you putting dollars toward work that cares for Muslims and invites them into the kingdom, either locally or far away? It’s none of my business how your budget is set up or what you support, but a budget suggesting that the church, corporately, doesn’t value reaching out to Muslims might limit what individuals will care about and do.

9. Partner with Muslims to address a social ill in your city.

A friend in San Jose, CA unites “Jews, Christians, and Muslims to serve the poor, suffering, and marginalized.” I think he’s onto something. Serving soup or cleaning up trash shoulder to shoulder with someone from another faith teaches things you’ll never get from a book or video.

10. Offer to take some of your people to visit a mosque.

There’s something about stepping into a mosque for the first time that is powerful, though difficult for many (Am I cheating on Jesus?). Your people will walk away with a sense that mosques are more the places where Muslims go to seek God in the best way they know and less the hothouses of religious sedition we’re sometimes told they are. A little bit of reality goes miles toward reshaping imagination. Two key points for this: Go as learners, not evangelists. A first visit is not the time for a showdown. And make sure you have pre-planned a good 45 minutes to debrief the experience.

Conclusion

Because these ideas are designed to be put into action, I’m happy to help you consider and implement any of them. I’d be honored to come alongside as you guide your people into obedience relative to one of the greatest challenges and opportunities of our generation.

» Let’s chat. Also, please add your ideas, whether brilliantly polished or still in process, to this document. I’ll start with my outtakes from this article.

Creative ideas and tools for the task | World News Briefs

  1. NETHERLANDS: The Secret That Can’t be Kept
  2. SOUTH KOREA: Consider Inviting the Neighbors
  3. THAILAND: Sacred Ink?
  4. CENTRAL ASIA: Nomad Truck Venture
  5. WORLD: Over 4 Billion Online

Greetings,

Today’s news briefs highlight some creative ideas and tools for ministry. I’ll add one more. I often find cool stuff at Flowing Data. This interactive map is awesome. You can zoom way in to get very detailed results. My area of Northern New York, a 6,000-square kilometer area, has a population of about 64,000. This time next year I hope to visit a part of the world with 12.5 million people in an area the same size!

blessings,
Pat

NETHERLANDS: The Secret That Can’t Be Kept

You’ve heard of OM Ships, but you may not know about OM Riverboats. Their first vessel includes a floating “escape room” to help European visitors consider the gospel, “the secret that can’t be kept.”

Source: Operation Mobilization, January 24, 2018

The Agency is a first-of-its-kind interactive mission experience that’s set on top of OM’s newly-launched riverboat. Inspired by ideas from a popular real-life game known as an “escape room,” The Agency is a simulation where participants race against time as they try to break out of locked rooms by gathering clues and solving puzzles. Through the experience, participants discover a secret that can’t be kept.

“This experience is the focus of the riverboat,” explained David Svenson, who oversees the artistic direction of The Agency. “We are taking the parable and giving it a modern twist. It’s telling a story about the gospel which then motivates and mobilizes people to share it with the least-reached.”

Escape rooms have only been introduced in Europe in recent years, but have quickly gained popularity, especially among youths. The first escape room opened in the Netherlands in 2013, with others following due to market demand.

The concept of The Agency can be summed up in three words: recruited, trained, and sent. It’s the same process that Christians go through to eventually be sent by God and carry out the Great Commission.

» Full story here. Not familiar with the escape-room concept? Read In Escape Rooms, Video Games Meet Real Life (New York Times).

SOUTH KOREA: Consider Inviting the Neighbors

Source: International Mission Board, February 5, 2018

This Olympics… As you watch people compete in events like curling or skiing or shooting, let it be an opportunity to remember who we are, why we’re here, and the eternity to which we are all heading. Let it be an opportunity to remember that our big wide world is full of billions of living, breathing souls, all striving for similar things—to achieve purpose in life, to make their life count somehow.

And let it be a bridge to reach out. Many of us have neighbors or colleagues from different countries. Invite them over for a meal and to watch the Olympics together. Maybe even ask them to bring a dish from their country and share your cuisines. Talk about what sports are like in their country and what brings their countrymen together.

The Olympics are an easy topic around which to unite, talk about what we have in common, and build relationships. In some way, the Games speak to the hearts of everyone. People in every culture know what it’s like to spend their lives trying to achieve something. Every person knows what it’s like to try to find meaning and purpose.

Use these Olympic Games to ask people about their passion in life and what they’re striving for. Ask them what they want their big life achievements to be. Ask them where they find their purpose. Ask them if they’ve ever been disappointed in that quest. Ask if their accomplishments have fulfilled them like they thought they would.

The Olympics are a great bridge to enter a conversation about the race we’re running and the hope that we have—a hope that will gather the nations together one day in a way that is a million times more peaceful, a million times better.

» Read full story.

» See also Experiencing the Olympics with God in Mind (Weave). For daily devotions and activities to do with your children, join the author’s Missional Olympics Facebook group. Sound familiar? We highlighted both those things in last week’s Resource Reviews. Take a look if you missed it!

THAILAND: Sacred Ink?

Source: International Mission Board, January 29, 2018

When I moved with my family to Thailand a few years ago, I began noticing an abundance of tattoo parlors, many advertising “bamboo tattoos.” I soon learned that bamboo tattoos are known in the local language as sak yant, which translates literally, “tattoo of sacred image.”

Sak Yant has gained worldwide fame. The tattoos are considered fashionable and are sought after by many who travel to Thailand. But it is important to understand the spiritual implications of the tattoos.

Khun Pat, a Christian who once practiced sak yant extensively, cautions, “For people who want to be involved with sak yant, they need to know this—it is not an art form. You open the door for something really dark to come into you.”

Khun Pat testifies to the deliverance from sak yant he found in Christ. “What Jesus gave me is not the power to hurt people, not to harm people; but what he gave me was the power to love people. Sak yant is darkness—it will destroy you long term. But Jesus will give you life.”

» See full story with photos and a short videos to see why he says these tats are trouble.

» It may be helpful to acknowledge that tattoos send different messages in different contexts. See Tattoos Present Him With Witnessing Opportunities (Baptist Press) and other points explored in a conversation on the topic at AskaMissionary.com. Also check out Why So Many Americans Think Buddhism Is Just a Philosophy (The Conversation).

CENTRAL ASIA: Nomad Truck Venture

Source: Christian Newswire, January 23, 2018

Christians with a heart for sharing Jesus and a taste for adventure are being invited to take part in an overland trek aiming to help take the gospel to some of the world’s unreached nomadic people groups. The five-week Nomad Truck Venture co-sponsored by Frontier Ventures, will see participants travel more than 3,000 miles across rugged Central Asia in the summer, to introduce them to the special needs and challenges of sharing Jesus among communities constantly on the move.

Joint-trek organizer, the Nomadic Peoples Network (NPN), has identified 181 nomadic groups—totaling 123 million people—of which only one is known to be reached. Also, comprising 69 of the world’s 193 unengaged peoples with populations over 100,000, and more than a third of the world’s unengaged, unreached people groups, nomads represent a major priority for frontier missions

» Learn more.

» For another creative venture in Central Asia, read Team Ventures into Fruit-Drying Business (Partners International).

WORLD: Over Four Billion Online

Source: Missiologically Thinking, February 1, 2018

I want to draw your attention to Simon Kemp’s recently posted article, Eleven New People Join Social Media Every Second (and Other Impressive Stats). After reading this article, you need to download the “Digital in 2018” presentation—a massive goldmine of helpful charts and data on 230 countries and territories.

  • 3.2 billion people are active social media users
  • Average user spends 6 hours per day on the internet
  • More than 200 million people got their first mobile device in 2017
  • A quarter of a billion people got online for the first time in the last 12 months
  • Saudi Arabia is the fastest growing country when it comes to social media users (with India close behind)

May the Lord give us grace today to see the possibilities… and to act on them.

» Read full story.

» Also read about a new app designed for the scattered Christians of India (Audio Scripture Ministries, via Mission Network News) and How Facebook’s Big Announcement Can Help Missions (World Venture).

Life-changing stats, insights from Africa, voices from Europe | Resource Reviews

Sunrise over an Australian beach. Wherever you are today, we hope you find something you can use in today’s edition of Missions Catalyst.
Photo by Igor Kasalovic on Unsplash.

  1. ARTICLE: Experiencing the Olympics with God in Mind
  2. BOOK: Window on the World
  3. PODCASTS: Voices from Europe
  4. BOOK: African Christian Leadership
  5. EVENT: US-Based Mission Exposure Tours
  6. EVENTS: Upcoming Courses and Conferences

ARTICLE: Experiencing the Olympics with God in Mind

Source: Weave Family

Do you watch the Olympics with your kids? A new article from Weave Family suggests specific ways to not only spark your children’s interest in athletics and friendly competition, but also give your family a bigger picture of God’s world.

» Read the article. For daily devotions, activities, or crafts to do with your children during the Winter Olympics, join the author’s Missional Olympics Facebook group.

BOOK: Window on the World

Window to the World: The Numbers Behind the Need, by Andrew Knight. Independently published, 2018, 45 pages.

“Numbers can change lives and destinies,” claims Andrew Knight, “A statistic can communicate more in an instant than rationale in an hour-long speech or hundreds of pages in a book. I have been told multiple times how stats and numbers have caused people to reflect and then ultimately redirect.”

Window to the World compiles 100 world mission statistics into ten categories (global economics, missionary force, money, urbanization, poverty, refugees, religion, reachedness, etc.) to illustrate needs and opportunities in our world. Each chapter is just two pages: a page of commentary and then a page of 10 striking statistics on that global topic.

This book is self-published and I can’t tell you anything about the author. But everything is footnoted, and many of the numbers are drawn from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity’s status of global Christianity, a document revised annually. That and the author’s commentary could be helpful if you want to use this book as a resource for quick numbers to easily fold into your teaching and mobilization efforts.

» Preview or purchase on Amazon. The Kindle edition is just US$.99, but you can also get it in paperback for US$3.99.

PODCAST: Voices from Europe

Source: Pioneers in Europe

Is listening to podcasts part of your commute, workout, or morning routine? Check out a new podcast featuring conversations with veteran church planters and mission leaders from various sending countries who work among the least reached in Europe.

They’re all with Pioneers (also the agency that sponsors Missions Catalyst), but they do a great job describing what it’s like to serve in their contexts and providing solid, thoughtful advice for anyone considering joining ministries in these places. Each episode is about 20 minutes long.

Episode 1: Martin, a European serving in the UK
Episode 2: Graham, an Australian serving in Italy
Episode 3: Steve, an American serving in France
Episode 4: James, a American serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Episode 5: Lauren, an Australian serving in France
Episode 6: Shane, an Australian serving in Spain

» Listen to the Pioneers in Europe podcast.

» I’ve also been listening to a podcast some of you might enjoy called Taking Route. It’s a bi-weekly podcast for expat women about living abroad, and it’s hilarious! What’s in your earbuds? Let me know (especially if it’s appropriate to feature in Missions Catalyst).

BOOK: African Christian Leadership

Source: African Leadership Study

African Christian Leadership: Realities, Opportunities, and Impact, edited by Robert J. Priest and Kirimi Barine. Orbis Books, 2017. 320 pages.

Wish you had a better understanding of the issues and questions African Christians face as they seek to live out their faith in their cultural context? Wonder how Africans themselves frame these questions and their answers?

Would you like access to actual research that can confirm your own experience or bring new information to your attention that would deepen and broaden your understanding?African Christian Leadership, the result of a multiyear study implemented by African scholars, offers insights on the support and training necessary to promote African Christianity and to foster the healthy development of Africa. Featuring input from over 8,000 African survey participants and dozens of in-depth interviews, it provides invaluable insight and concise analysis of the dynamics of the development of African Christian leaders today.

» Learn more or purchase the Kindle edition for US$15.12. Also available in paperback. Want to dig deeper into the data and analysis? The Africa Leadership Study website includes resources to help you engage further.

EVENT: US-Based Mission Exposure Tours

Source: Global Frontier Missions

Are you a pastor or missions leader looking for ways to help your church catch a vision for global missions or international ministry in your hometown? Looking for an opportunity to give your family or small group a cross-cultural experience that will impact their worldview? Maybe you’re a college student looking for exposure to unreached people groups and cultures without spending a fortune. Check this out.

Every month, Global Frontier Missions offers “Global Missions Journeys,” reasonably priced, thoughtfully designed, weekend experiences in multi-ethnic Clarkston, GA for missions exposure and training. They include mission education, prayer walking, interacting with people from different cultures and religions, and resources you can take home to use in engaging your local church in cross-cultural ministry at home and abroad. GFM adheres to the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission, and that’s always a good sign.

“Global Missions Tours,” scaled down to eight hours, are also available in Atlanta, Houston, and Richmond, and now in Sydney, Australia.

» Learn more. Other opportunities from GFM include internships, missionary training programs, and an online course.

» This and several other mission exposure programs are described in Start Here: First Steps to Ministry with Least-Reached Peoples (Catalyst Services).

EVENTS: Upcoming Conferences and Courses

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

February 1, Five Types of Strategies for Mission Organizations (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

February 2-3, Santa Barbara Mission Conference (Santa Barbara, CA, USA). An annual event.

February 2-4, Missionfest Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

February 2-8, Thrive Retreat (Paphos, Cypress). For North American women serving cross-culturally.

February 5 to June 10, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). This intro-to-missions course follows a four-month format.

February 6-9, Support Raising Leaders Conference (Orlando, FL, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

February 11-23, Second Language Acquisition Course (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.

February 12 to March 10, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Missionary Training International.

February 14-21, Learning Culture through Purposeful Observation (online). Course provided by the Center for Intercultural Training (CIT).

February 14 to March 25, Seek God for the City (global). Annual prayer campaign coordinated by Seek God for the City.

February 15 to March 15, Foundations of Media Strategy (online). Training course from Mission Media U.

February 18-23, ABIDE (Joplin, MO, USA). Debriefing and re-entry help for returning missionaries.

February 21, Mobilizing the Next Generation of Missionaries (online). Free webinar from 16:15 and Cafe 10/40.

February 21-23, International Conference on Turkey (Mesa, AZ, USA). Sponsored by the International Turkey Network.

February 21 to March 21, Story in Ministry (online). Mentored course by Mission Media U on applying elements of story to your outreach.

February 22-23, Standards Introductory Workshop (Portland, OR, USA) presented by Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

February 23-24, Midwest Conference on Missionary Care (Burnsville, MN, USA). An annual event.

February 23-24, Defy the Ordinary (Portland, OR, USA). Conference focusing on short-term missions presented by Short-Term Mission ConneXion and Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

February 23-25, Missions Fest Alberta (Edmonton, AB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

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

News Briefs from the Nations

  1. EGYPT: “Yes, I Am a Christian”
  2. CHINA: New Religious Affairs Regulations Expected Soon
  3. FINLAND: Hundreds of Muslims Coming to Christ
  4. BURKINA FASO: Thousands Call for Doctor’s Release
  5. LAOS: A Church for the So

Greetings,

Open Doors recently released the 2018 edition of their World Watch List. Though it does not change much from year to year, read Good News from the Persecuted Church (Gateway News) for insights on what’s different this year (including some reasons to celebrate). You may also appreciate Ed Stetzer’s thoughtful article, What Persecution Is and Isn’t and How to Respond (Christianity Today).

Today’s edition starts with a story from Open Doors and includes several additional articles related to persecution and religious liberty.

Thanks for praying!

For those in chains,
Pat

The World Watch List is an annual publication that reports on the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. Read more below or see the complete report (Open Doors).

EGYPT: “Yes, I Am a Christian”

Source: Open Doors, January 21, 2018

“Are you Christian?”

The 27-year-old husband and father of five Bassem Herz Attalhah didn’t hesitate to answer.

“Yes, I am Christian,” he told his attackers and then immediately proclaimed his faith a second time in a loud voice: “Yes, I am Christian.”

Bassem was on his way home from work in El-Arish, where he and his brother, Osama, had opened a mobile phone shop. He was with Osama and their neighbor and friend Mohamed when three men stopped them and asked Bassem to show them the wrist of his right hand (Coptic Christians wear a small black tattoo of a cross on their right wrist—a visible reminder and sign of their faith and also a form of identification since many churches station security at their doors to check that those entering are Christians).

When the men saw the tattoo of the cross, they asked Bassem the fatal question. The men then asked Mohamed his name and made him show his wrist. When they saw he had no tattoo, he was allowed to leave. Then they turned to Osama.

“Bassem told them that I had children,” Osama recalls. “They asked me to show them the wrist of my right hand and, when they didn’t see any cross, they thought that I was Muslim.” (The men didn’t see the cross that Osama has tattooed on the top of his hand, hidden by his sleeve.)

“We lost a person dear to our hearts,” Osama said. “My brother Bassem was a very good and kind man. He had a strong relationship with God. He was always reading in the Bible, praying, and going to the church. He was loved by all people.”

When Bassem’s close friend Milad Wasfi heard he had been killed, he couldn’t believe it and called his friend’s phone. His call was answered, but not by his friend.

“The terrorists answered me and said they belong to State of Sinai and promised to kill more Copts before they put down the phone,” he told World Watch Monitor.

» Full story includes a prayer for the Christians of Egypt and says the war on Christianity in Egypt is intensifying. In 2017, 130 Christians were reportedly killed for their faith.

CHINA: New Religious Affairs Regulations Expected Soon

Source: Mission Network News, January 22, 2018

According to Release International, the Chinese government is planning to unveil a new set of regulations on religious affairs next month. These new regulations may give the government more control over state churches and tighten the pressure on unregistered churches.

China also recently grabbed international attention when the Golden Lampstand Church, an evangelical megachurch in the Shanxi Province, was demolished by military police. It was the latest in a string of oppressive movements by local governing officials to restrict and regulate spiritual life.

To be fair, China is a massive country holding one-fifth of the world’s population. So the oppression Christians in China face varies from region to region.

[David Curry, President of Open Doors USA] says a lot of the paranoia when it comes to religion in China can be boiled down to one thing: nationalism. Christianity is viewed by the Chinese government as a Western religion. And in a country steeped heavily in Communist principles, any Western influence is considered a threat.

» Full story provides food for thought about government efforts to harness religion not only in China today but other times and places as well.

» See The Chinese Church Prepares for Missions for insight on challenges and opportunities for Chinese in global ministry (China Source).

» Also related to religious law, you may have heard Bolivia made evangelism a crime. Looks like that decision is being reversed (Christianity Today).

FINLAND: Hundreds of Muslims Coming to Christ

Source: Interserve, January 2018

A report in the Finnish media says that within the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, Muslims are changing allegiance to Christ in numbers estimated to be in the hundreds over recent years. What’s going on?

These people are from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and other Muslim countries. The numbers are sufficient to prompt Lutheran parishes to establish special confirmation classes for Muslim immigrants seeking to follow Jesus.

The report says that about 20 Afghan men are currently attending “pre-confirmation” classes at a parish center in Imatra in Eastern Finland. The teachers use a New Testament in the Dari language (a Persian dialect), which is spoken in Afghanistan.

While some who are seeking to change allegiance said that disillusionment with Islam was the key reason, others said they felt life as a “Christian” would help them fit into Finnish society, according to Sputnik News, which also speculates that there could be an underlying reason to guard themselves against possible deportation.

In Finland 4.1 million of the 5.5 million people are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and a June 2016 Guardian article cited anecdotal data of rising Christian church attendance by Muslims right across the Eurozone.

Take for instance, Trinity church in the Berlin suburb of Steglitz, which saw its congregation grow from 150 to 700 due to people from Muslim families changing faith allegiance to Jesus. The Austrian Catholic Church also saw its applications for adult baptism swell by nearly 70% in the first three months of 2016.

» Full story based on an article published in the Christian Post in July.

» See also these other stories related to global migration: Christian Convert from Iran Converting Muslims in Sweden (Fox News), Four Ways to Meet a Refugee (Faith and Forced Migration), and What Christians in the US Can Learn from Immigrant Pastors (Christianity Today).

BURKINA FASO: Thousands Call for Release of Doctor

Source: World Watch Monitor, January 17, 2018

Thousands took to the streets of Djibo, a northern town in Burkina Faso, on [January 15] to call for the government to secure the release of an Australian doctor, Ken Elliott, kidnapped two years ago. The abduction was claimed by a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Djibo, in the province of Soum, is the town where Dr. Elliott, with his wife, had run a 120-bed clinic for 40 years until their abduction. Jocelyn Elliott was released in February 2016; the Islamist group said in an audio recording that it released Mrs. Elliott so as “not to make women involved in the war.”

The demonstrators claim that the government has not kept its promise to re-open the only medical clinic in the town. An open letter addressed to President Roch Marc Kaboré, read aloud, stated a request that the surgeon’s clinic, the result of a 40-year commitment, be continued.

Dr. Elliott, who is believed to be held outside Burkina Faso, was declared a citizen of the West African nation by an official decree in November 2016.

The couple’s abduction coincided with a jihadist assault on an upmarket hotel in Ouagadougou in January 2016, which left at least 30 people dead, including seven missionaries.

» Full story describes the desparate medical situation in this region. See also the latest WWM report about Andrew Brunson, imprisoned in Turkey.

LAOS: A Church for the So

Source: OMF International, December 2017

Ten years ago, very few, if any, So people called on Jesus as Lord [and] very few of them had ever heard the name of Jesus or the gospel message.

Through a combination of miracles, intentional discipleship, and testing through persecution, the first So church was established in 2013. Initially, many of the new believers knew Jesus more as healer than savior.

The Christians who first began working among the So continued to disciple the new church’s leaders wherever they could—in the jungle, in boats, guesthouses, or in town.

They answered every question the new believers had, such as how to say prayers before sleep or in the morning, how to not take part in temple ceremonies but still be a part of their community, how to do a Christian wedding, how to bless a new house, and how to officiate funerals. Everything was modeled and practiced before the new church. Then, the older Christians helped the So Christians do it. Finally, discipleship and encouragement was given over the phone and the So believers began doing it on their own.

Today there are about seven So churches serving more than 260 So believers. The churches are elder-led and share the responsibility for shepherding, discipling, teaching and starting new groups. Some of the churches have seen started spreading the gospel to other people groups in the region.

» Full story further illustrates the “Model, Assist, Watch, Leave” (MAWL) method for cross-cultural church planting. Learn more about people groups of the Mekong region.

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