In this issue: Learning from yesterday’s mission force and equipping tomorrow’s
- VIDEO: A Parable of Two Beginner Missionaries
- BOOK: Missionary Monasticism
- ARTICLE: Stuck: How to Overcome Five Church Mission Impasses
- TRAINING RESOURCES: Coaching in Ministry
- EVENTS: Upcoming Conferences, Courses, and More
Check out this simple, two-minute video from Propempo’s David Meade, on preparing to thrive in cross-cultural missions. But be careful; you might relate to some of the dynamics portrayed!
» For more on this topic, listen to the audio of David’s presentation, How Do I Get from Here to There (The CROSS Conference).
Missionary Monks: An Introduction to the History and Theology of Missionary Monasticism, by Edward L. Smither. Cascade Books, 2017. 202 pages.
You may remember the desert fathers from church history… and if you’re a mission history buff, also recall the significant role monastic movements played in reaching Europe, or have some stories about the Celtic church, the Eastern church, or the Jesuits. In this new book, we can “journey with monks and monastic orders who led the way in global mission from the fourth to the seventeenth centuries.” Quite the scope! Meet mystics and leaders like Patrick, Boniface, Anskar, Cyril, and more, exploring their ministries in context as well as drawing lessons for today from their approaches to mission. This book is a good read and a great resource for those who may teach on these topics.
The author is Professor of Intercultural Studies and History of Global Christianity and Dean of the College of Intercultural Studies at Columbia International University (my recent alma mater).
» Learn more or purchase this book from Amazon (or elsewhere) at US$9.99 for the Kindle edition and US$25.00 for the paperback. A substantial excerpt on the author’s website will give you a good sense of the book’s tone and contents.
Editor’s note: After our comments in last week’s edition about leveraging Saint Patrick’s Day for mobilization, a number of readers wrote in with resources and ideas. Much thanks!
Source: Catalyst Services, February 2017
“Do you or your missions team sometimes feel stuck? You’re not alone! Many churches wrestle with similar feelings. The enemy would like you to believe that you can’t do more in global outreach. Refuse to accept the status quo! Here are five common places churches bog down and some ideas to get moving.”
Don’t miss the practical suggestions and the stories of four churches that have successfully gotten their missions program moving again.
» You might also be interested in asking your team to set aside a few hours for OnMission 2017, a free, virtual conference for church mission leaders from Missio Nexus.
Source: Creative Results Management
Looking to multiply your ministry impact? Consider getting some training in the art of “coaching.” Christian Coaching allows you to develop both skills and character in other people, while doing ministry. Rather than giving advice, asking powerful questions will draw out what the Holy Spirit has put in. Many missionary trainers, leaders, and missionary-care specialists use these skills to encourage the personal and professional development of their workers, but the same principles can also help people grow in evangelism, discipleship and leadership development.
Creative Results Management, founded and led by Keith Webb, is a Christian organization providing training to help multiply ministry impact internationally. They have worked extensively with missionary and mission agencies. Begun in Southeast Asia and now based in Seattle, they provide regular training on every continent, mostly for mission personnel. You might want to check out their Coaching Mastery course and the Coaching Workshop for Christian Leaders, as well as specialized courses in cross-cultural coaching.
» Learn more about upcoming coaching classes or get a good start by reading Webb’s 2015 100-page book, Coaching In Ministry: How Busy Church Leaders Can Multiply Their Ministry Impact.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
April 5, OnMission 2017 (online). Free, virtual conference for church mission leaders from Missio Nexus.
April 6-9, Catalyze Northeast (Hamilton, MA, USA). Join us as we explore the concepts of effective ministry among Muslims; provided by Frontiers.
April 7-8, Mobile Ministry Forum 2017 Consultation (Zelhem, Holland). Leading mobile ministry innovators and practitioners.
April 7-9, Entrepreneurial Readiness Workshop (College Station, TX, USA). Sponsored by the Global Enterprise Network, a ministry of The Navigators.
April 9-14, ABIDE (Joplin, MO, USA). Re-entry and debriefing for singles, couples, and families provided by TRAIN International.
April 10-11, The Journey Deepens (Portland, OR, USA). A weekend retreat for prospective missionaries.
April 14, Global Day of Prayer for the 4/14 Window (global). Praying for the world’s children (especially those aged 4-14).
April 17 to May 26, Ministering in a Muslim Context (online). Six-week course from COMMA and the Grow2Serve network.
April 17-18, Personal Support Raising Boot Camp (Rogers, AR, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.
April 20-22, Legacy Conference (Edmonton, AB, Canada). A conference about Muslims, missions, and the heart of God; provided by Horizons International.
April 23 to May 5, Second Language Acquisition (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.
April 24-27, Thrive Retreat (Dubrovnik, Croatia). For North American women serving cross-culturally.
April 24 to May 7, ORIENT (Joplin, MO, USA). Learn key skills for surviving and thriving cross-culturally. Provided by TRAIN International.
April 26-28, Mission Influencers Conference (Raymond, WA, USA). Annual conference sponsored by World Venture.
May 1-2, Standards Introductory Workshop presented by Standards of Excellence in Short-term Missions (Phoenix, AZ). A pre-conference workshop at the International Wholistic Missions Conference.
May 3-5, International Wholistic Missions Conference (Phoenix, AZ, USA). From the Global CHE Network.
May 12-13, People Raising Conference (Oak Brook, IL, USA). Be equipped for raising personal support.
May 15-20, TOTAL It Up! Taste of Translation and Linguistics (Dallas, TX, USA). Provided by Wycliffe Bible Translators.
May 18-20, Christian Community Health Conference (Cincinnati, OH, USA). Provided by the Christian Community Health Fellowship.
May 22-27, TOTAL It Up! Extreme – Taste of Translation and Linguistics (Waxhaw, NC, USA). Provided by Wycliffe Bible Translators.
May 25-27, Global Children’s Ministry Equip Conference (Nairobi, Kenya). An annual event.
May 27 to June 25, 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World (global).
May 28 to June 3, Single Vision Retreat (Dolphin Bay, Thailand). A member care program for singles in the mission community.
» View the complete calendar. For additional information about a specific event, please contact the organizers.
In this issue: Captives freed, famines, and Jesus sightings
- MIDDLE EAST: Jesus Appears to Jailer, Leading to Release of Imprisoned Pastors
- BANGLADESH: Despite Persecution, Christianity Exploding
- NIGERIA: Christians Cry Out as Authorities Begin Church Demolition
- SUDAN: Czech Aid Worker Released, Two Sudanese Pastors Remain in Prison
- MADAGASCAR: Witch Doctor Finds Peace in Christ
- KOREA: The Blossoming of a Mission Movement
We are just two days away from my favorite holiday celebrating a person: St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not Irish but I am named after him as I was born one day before his day. I’ve come to think the March 17th revelry (which sometimes gets out of hand) as a Western version of India’s Holi Festival.
If you’ve been a Missions Catalyst reader for long, you may have noticed I like to leverage “holy days” for the Great Commission. Could St. Patrick’s Day be the least leveraged and most powerful holiday for mission mobilizers?
- For Patrick in his own words, read St. Patrick’s Confession. This may be the best source we have, but at more than 6,000 words, it’s long.
- Have just a few minutes? Watch this video clip from VeggieTales (eight minutes).
- Avoid getting your history from sources like this movie. (Know of a good film about Patrick? Please email me!)
- Myth and legend abound. If you find what seems a great story, I suggest you check it with a service like Hoaxology before sharing.
Christ’s words to love our enemies come to life in the story of Patrick. What stories could be more relevant for the church today? Read and share the stories of some modern-day Patricks below.
Celebrating saints past and present,
Editor’s Note: I (Marti) was pleased to come across a new book about missionary monks which gives Patrick a whole chapter. Reading it now!
St. Patrick’s Day header designed by Freepik.
Source: God Reports, February 8, 2017
Two pastors conducting a Bible study for new believers in an underground Middle East church were beaten, arrested by police, and taken to a secret jail. But after Jesus appeared to an official at the prison, their situation changed dramatically.
After the first two months, they became discouraged and cried out to the Lord: “Where are you? Why won’t you come and save us?” They prayed, “If we have done any sin and iniquities, forgive us and purify us by your precious blood and save us from this situation.”
Three days after their heartfelt cry to the Lord for help, a top-ranking officer of the jails visited them. The official ordered the guards to give them larger servings of food, and then disappeared into his office.
Then they were surprised when the officer returned alone that night, entered their cell, and sat down on the floor beside them. Then he did something even more surprising—he asked them to pray for him!
[In one of a series of dreams] Jesus [had] appeared before him and said, “My children are being tortured in your jail. I leave them before you. My children are the apple of my eyes.”
So the official quickly canceled his other plans and rushed to the jail. For three days he stayed in the official residence of the prison, but spent most of his time with the pastors—praying and learning more about Jesus and the Bible.
Source: Christian Freedom International, March 9, 2017
According to official estimates, the religious composition of Bangladesh is 89.1 percent Muslim, 10 percent Hindi, with less than one percent Christian in a nation of over 156 million people. But unofficially, Christianity is much larger and growing, especially in the rural areas.
Official reports on religious composition only count “traditional Christians,” i.e., people who are born into the Christian faith and attend government-approved churches. But “converts,” those who change their religion from Islam to Christianity are not counted and no surveys have been made.
The consensus among “converts” is that Christians in Bangladesh make up of at least 10 percent of the population and is growing more every day. Some indigenous evangelists tell CFI they believe that Bangladesh will become a Christian nation in their lifetimes.
Source: World Watch Monitor, January 23, 2017
Anxiety is high among Christian communities in Nigeria’s northern state of Jigawa after authorities began demolishing church buildings in Dutse, the state capital.
On January 11, bulldozers, escorted by security forces, reduced to rubble the Redeem Christian Church of God and the Lord Chosen Church.
They arrived at the Redeem Church at about 10am, according to Rev. Yakubu Musa, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for Jigawa. The Executive Secretary of Urban Development and some key police officers were at the scene. The police blocked all the entrances to prevent church members from entering the premises. Those who tried to take pictures were chased away by police officers.
The bulldozers first removed the fence. They then demolished a small building inside the premises, before destroying the main church building. At around 12 noon, they went to the second church, which was also completely demolished.
“It was a terrible experience, with so many Christians who witnessed the demolition crying,” said Rev. Musa. “I felt so bitter because we were in a situation were you have been cheated and you cannot talk.”
» See also Education Is Forbidden about Boko Haram’s attacks on education; this article has great visuals (Roads and Kingdoms).
Source: Morning Star News, February 27, 2017
Sudan released Czech aid worker Petr Jasek on [February 25], nearly one month after a court in Khartoum sentenced him to life in prison for espionage and other charges, according to reports. Christian leaders in Sudan confirmed the release of the Czech aid worker.
Two Sudanese Christians remain behind bars, though they were convicted of “aiding and abetting” Jasek’s alleged espionage and sentenced to 12 years in prison. It was not clear whether Sudan would consider releasing the two Church leaders. Their cases are awaiting appeal.
» Christians in neighboring South Sudan are thankful to report the release of eight Samaritan’s Purse aid workers who had been kidnapped. Pray for South Sudan which is on the brink of famine, as are Somalia and Yemen.
Source: Operation Mobilization, March 3, 2017
Fomesoa looks like a typical Malagasy man. He is slight in frame with brown eyes, and his black hair is speckled with gray from age. What is not so typical is that at 15 years of age, Fomesoa became a witch doctor.
“I didn’t get it from people,” he explained. “An evil spirit came directly to me and guided me to buy a particular type of wood [to start making charms].”
In early 2016 Fomesoa’s life changed. “In the beginning, there was no one who told me about Jesus, but I just started to not care about my idols. I think that is when Jesus first came into my life,” said Fomesoa.
A few weeks later, he met [an OM mission worker named] Fara, who told him about Jesus and urged him to get rid of his idols and charms. Filled with conviction, Fomesoa lit a fire outside his house and threw the charms in. Looking back, he knows now that his indifference to the charms was God working in his life. “I felt something changing in my life, I felt happy [burning the idols],” Fomesoa said.
“I feel peace in my life now,” said Fomesoa with a smile.
» Read full story, and also read Exponential Potential, in which an OM writer describes a multi-agency partnership to mobilize missionaries from the Arabian Peninsula to go to some of the world’s least reached peoples.
» See also Nursing Schools Fight off Witch Doctors in Uganda (Mission Network News).
Source: GMI Missiographics
The Korean mission movement is an amazing mission story of the past 40 years. For much of that time, it has been well documented by the Korea Research Institute for Mission, and the picture is very clear. Praise God for it, and also pray for it as the growth has slowed down a great deal in recent years.
In this issue: Six reasons to cancel that overseas mission trip
By Shane Bennett
If you’ve read more than two of my columns, you know I have totally drunk the short-term missions Kool-Aid. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger advocate. In fact, I’m dying to invite you to come on a short-term to Sicily with me! But just for fun, this month we’re going to look at why you might not want to go overseas—why instead, you may want to do something just as cool but that’s within a stone’s throw (or a day’s drive) of your house.
So here are six reasons why you and your church should not plan an amazing trip to Faroffistan this summer, but rather do something equally strategic and helpful nearby. [Click to tweet this]
- Because you live here!
I for one have stood on the rooftop of my short-term housing in Faroffistan and wistfully watched planes fly away, whispering in the darkness of my own heart, “Someday soon I will be on one of you!” Being more spiritual than me, you probably have felt another kind of sadness nearing the end of a short-term assignment: something like regret that you couldn’t stay longer, a sense of tearing as new found relationships come to an end, a wish that you could complete or at least continue the work your team began.
Well, good news: If you do a short-term trip near where you live, you live near there! (Take whatever time you need to process that logic, then read on!) You can go back next month or next weekend. You can have your new friends over for a barbecue. No plane ticket. No passport or shots. Just gas money equivalent to the change you can scrounge from under the couch cushions.
- Everyone is “here” now.
For many of us, the key value of dropping into a foreign culture can be pretty much accomplished within driving range, sometimes walking range, of our house. If you arrange your efforts to focus on people different from you and to engage them in conversation, you’ll get at least a little bit of cultural disorientation (and connection).
Furthermore, if you focus well, and perhaps drive a little farther, you can serve unreached people. There may be communities near you representing whole peoples who’ve largely been overlooked in our sharing of the kingdom of God.
- We need to play the home games, too.
If you’re into missions, you may have heard this, “I don’t know about going all the way to Faroffistan. We have plenty of needs right here and the Bible says to bloom where you’re planted.” Well, we do and it doesn’t, but there is a point here. Steve Hawthorne said that being exclusively concerned about overseas stuff is like a team who only plays “away” games. It’s silly. God has placed us where we are and we do have a certain stewardship for our place. It would do us well to look around a bit and ask God what he’s up to here.
- You have kids! (Well, some of you do.)
And you’re telling me you’re going to take them overseas? Let them get groped by TSA along the way? Expose them to Zika? Probably lose them in a crowded train station in Calcutta? (Yes, I am reading your mom’s email!) I’m all for taking kids overseas, but I figure the effort required to shift the family is large enough to make a one-year stay the minimum for most families. And cross-cultural exposure is so important that if you don’t already live someplace like San Francisco or Amsterdam, you may need to make some special efforts to get your munchkins immersed among people different from them. If you don’t want to give Mum a coronary, doing that domestically may be a good start.
- Lower cost means more workers.
OK, work this out to its logical extreme and the cheapest thing to do is stay on the couch! I get that. But making a cross-cultural experience more accessible to more people is a worthwhile idea. For good reasons or bad, some of our friends cannot imagine finding $2500 to spend a week in Faroffistan. But they might pony up US$250 for a long weekend of immersion in a nearby city. And sometimes it only takes three or four days of hugs and hummus to change minds and knit hearts to newcomers. [Click to tweet this]
- Action beats whining … every time.
While I was writing this column, President Trump was signing a new executive order limiting refugee admittance and temporarily banning travel to the US from several countries. We may think the order is ill-advised and will do little to increase the security of Americans, but this much also seems true: We shouldn’t complain if we’re not willing to act. I feel a little foolish ranting and raving about my country not letting in refugees while I myself fail to drive across town for tea with some who beat the ban. This spring break or summer could be a really good time to go hang out with refugees.Conclusion
What have you done to connect with unreached peoples domestically? If you were going to take a small group from your church to reach out to refugees nearby you, what would you do? I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences.
» Please take a moment to share them with us below or through Facebook.
If this kind of experience seems like a good idea for your church, but you don’t know where to start, let’s chat. A good bud and I are once again dreaming and scheming about effective, high-caliber, domestic, unreached-focused, short-term trips. And, well … we need some guinea pigs!
» Email Shane.
You’re smart, right? I’d like to hear what you think about a couple of things: What are Paul and Patty Pewsitter thinking about Muslims? What are their honest concerns? What’s behind their anger, if that’s present? How do you see them connecting or are they largely apathetic? And secondly, what will help shift them to more intentional engagement?
If you guessed that I’m asking as an effort to do some crowd-sourcing for Muslim Connect, you’re right. In case you missed our previous promotion of this new effort, it’s a 300-word drip feed to help us think about Muslims the way God does and to love them like Jesus. I’d love for you to subscribe and share it in your circle of influence. Together we can shift the foundation of thought and action toward Muslims.
- IRAQ: A Little Hope in Mosul
- VANUATU: How Cultural Imperialism Obscures the Gospel
- QATAR: Christian Migrants Build Stadiums for World Cup
- PAKISTAN: One Man Risks Death to Share the Gospel
- MALAWI: When the Bible Preaches Itself
Children in a Mosul neighborhood; story below (Preemptive Love Coalition).
Several of today’s news briefs steer us away from the headlines with glimpses of smaller stories that tend to get lost in the shadows:
- A ministry working in Iraq finds a sign of hope amid devastation.
- Immigrants find work (and exploitation) building stadiums for World Cup soccer.
- A missionary thinks about contextualization while watching an Oscar-nominated foreign film.
Where do you go to seek out stories from the shadows? Our news briefs are, by necessity, brief. Longer works may make a bigger impact. Have you seen any international films or documentaries that have made you think? What about books? Recently National Geographic (partnering with the audio-book company Audible) put together a list called Around the World in 12 Books, which could give you a year’s worth of armchair travel, or, maybe better, inspire you to make a list of your own.
Editor’s note: Much thanks to all who let us know that the video about churches among the unreached which we featured in last week’s Missions Catalyst is no longer accessible. Sorry! The producers found a mistake they couldn’t fix and felt they had to take it down.
Source: Preemptive Love Coalition, February 19, 2017
A devout Muslim, Waleed worked for years as a soldier with Special Forces, and he has the sorrow and stories to prove it. He is more than qualified to work as a security specialist on our front-line deliveries. But now, standing there with that big grin on his scarred face, he looked more like a little kid.
How can he be smiling? We’re in a bombed-out church in the heart of Mosul, where ISIS had painted a giant black flag on the cross out front. Where thousands of Christian homes were marked with the Arabic letter “N,” their lives threatened with the sword, their possessions looted [and] families ultimately driven out of their ancestral neighborhoods like cattle.
Already that day, we’d picked through airstrike wreckage, seen rotted bodies of ISIS fighters, heard and felt and seen the battles of this god-forsaken war, heard stories of untold suffering—and now, standing in this bombed out, burned-up church, Waleed had the nerve to grin at the destruction?
“See? Look up… they missed it.”
» See also Mass Christian Immigration from Iraq Makes Future of Church Uncertain (Voice of America), and read about Burmese Christians ministering in Mosul (Christianity Today).
Source: International Mission Board, February 22, 2017
Every year when the list of Oscar nominees is released, I scour it to find obscure titles tucked away in each category. One group that is always full of gems is “Best Foreign Language Film.” The five movies included are selected from the best of the best that the international film community has to offer. Foreign films offer me something most of the Hollywood-produced ones don’t—a glimpse into a different culture’s worldview. Although I live and serve in Africa, a submission from Australia caught my attention this year.
Tanna, directed by Bentley Dean and Martin Butler and filmed on the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, is a classic Romeo and Juliet tale of forbidden love. However, since the story was conceived and acted by the indigenous people of Yakel, it’s full of insights into their values, fears, and attempts (and failures) to answer the questions of life.
The challenge the characters in Tanna confront—what cultural norms must be abandoned to preserve life—is similar to one Christians ministering cross-culturally often face: What elements of a culture must be abandoned in order to follow Christ?
Watching films created in different cultural contexts helps me evaluate my own cultural biases and appreciate the diversity of life in our world.
» Readers might also be interested the film The Enemy God, recently made available for streaming and download. Want training in film making? Check out the news about the Academy of Frontier Media and Arts (with thanks to Brigada for the tip!)
Source: World Watch Monitor, February 20, 2017
Ten white plastic chairs are arranged in a circle on the roof terrace of a four-story apartment block housing hundreds of Asian laborers. This is a part of Qatar where tourists never come—Doha’s Industrial Zone, where all the hard groundwork is done to maintain Qatar’s image as a modern state. The roads here in some areas are bad, there are no streetlights, and the air is filled with fumes.
Although it is officially illegal to meet outside of government-approved areas, tonight a group of Christians will meet here together to read the Bible and pray.
Most visitors will see only grand, extravagant palaces, brightly illuminated skyscrapers, and futuristically designed mosques in Doha, the capital. Within a few years, a dozen new architectural accomplishments are going to join those landmark buildings—state-of-the-art football stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which are said to be costing the country $500m a week.
But the FIFA PR show cannot hide the other side of Qatar—a profoundly intolerant country for non-Muslims. There is a deep division between the extremely rich Qatari nationals, who are now a tiny minority in their own country, and the hundreds of thousands of often exploited laborers, mostly from Asian countries. Reports from charities such as Open Doors suggest there are serious dangers for those not part of Qatar’s Muslim elite. Qatar is ranked 20th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries in which it is most difficult to be a Christian.
» Also check out Qatar Needs to Stop “Playing the Victim Card,” in which a Qatari author touches on domestic worker abuse (Doha News).