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World News Briefs

Missions Catalyst News Briefs 5.4.16

  1. BURKINA FASO: Celebrating the San Bible
  2. CHILE: Christian Churches Set Ablaze
  3. PACIFIC RIM: Mobilizing Pacific Islanders
  4. INDIA: Blacksmith Paid to Make Iron Crosses Learns Their Meaning
  5. WORLD: The Portable Gospel and a Portable Dental Chair


In our last edition of News Briefs, we lauded Jordan for being the most hospitable nation (most refugees as a percentage of their population). This week I read that this region is also a place where sex trafficking is big business. CryOut reports from Lebanon that a large ring has been dismantled by security forces. (Praise God)!

So often the news reminds me of Fortunately, a favorite children’s story that starts like this:

“Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.
“Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.
“Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.
“Unfortunately, the motor exploded.
“Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.
“Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.”

Although much of this week’s news goes back and forth, we have this: Fortunately, God’s story ends gloriously for those who know and love him!

Say with me, “Come, Lord Jesus.”



Come, Lord Jesus (Lyric Video). Redemption City Church, Franklin, TN.

BURKINA FASO: Celebrating the San Bible

Source: United Bible Societies, April 18, 2016

“To have the whole Bible in San is for us a victory over the Enemy and over obscurantism. More and more Samo people (who speak San) are learning to read, and now they will be able to read God’s Word in their own language.”

These are the words of Thomas Traoré, President of the Eglise de l’Alliance Chrétienne (Church of the Christian Alliance) of Burkina Faso, at the publication of the first Bible in San—a language spoken by more than 230,000 people. The new Bible was dedicated in February, in Toma, Nayala Province, and was welcomed with great joy by the Christian community with prayers, singing, and dancing.

Work on translating the New Testament was started in 1982 by American missionary Richard Phillips and was later continued by the Bible Society and SIL. The New Testament was published in 1996, and work on the Old Testament began two years later.

“God speaks San and wants to talk to you in your language, so put your new Bible to good use,” [General Secretary of the Bible Society of Burkina Faso] Mr. Dramane Yankiné told the gathering of Samo Christians, urging them to use it as a tool to build their faith and to improve their literacy skills.

“The translation of the Word of God is in accord with the Spirit of Pentecost, when the apostles spoke in the mother tongues of the people around them,” he noted. “There is no sacred language in which God communicates; God speaks to each person in his or her language in order to be understood.”

» See full story with pictures.

» You might also enjoy reading about encouraging developments with access to the Bible in the West Africa’s Wolof language (SIM). On the other hand, please pray for Christians in Uzbekistan recently imprisoned and tortured, apparently for illegal possession of Christian literature (Forum 18 News Service).

CHILE: Christian Churches Set Ablaze

Source: Worthy News, April 11, 2016

Last month two churches in Chile were set ablaze by supporters of the Mapuche—a Chilean movement that seeks to rid the region of religions contrary to their own indigenous beliefs.

According to International Christian Concern, the church attacks were two of five other arsons that occurred within 24 hours.

In the first attack, the Catholic Church of Santa Joaquina in the commune of Padre Las Casas was torched. Hours later an evangelical church—the Christian Union in Antinao—was also set afire. A pamphlet found at the site read: “We are going to burn all churches” and demanded that all Mapuche political prisoners be released.

» Read full story. See also related stories in Christian Times and Reuters.

» Readers might also be interested in an ASSIST News Service story about the Gathering of Nations, a native-American event that brings together 700 North American tribes (and some committed to native American ministry).

PACIFIC RIM: Mobilizing Pacific Islanders

Source: SIM, April 22, 2016

The Pacific Island communities in New Zealand and the Pacific are beginning to rise up and go into the nations, proclaiming the gospel, demonstrating God’s love and power. We are seeking to journey with this nascent movement, Pacific2Nations, to mobilize the church to longer-term involvement in cross-cultural mission.

Please pray for:

  • The teams and individuals receiving Kairos training and beginning to explore overseas mission opportunities.
  • Pastors to continue to open their eyes to the need and the call and encourage their people to be involved in overseas mission.
  • Many more Pacific Islanders to accept the challenge to be involved in God’s mission to the nations.

» Read full story and pray for the next Pacific2Nations event, near Sydney, Australia, May 27-28. Live near there? Check it out. It’s free.

INDIA: Blacksmith Paid to Make Iron Crosses Learns Their Meaning

Source: God Reports, May 2, 2016

He was the only blacksmith in his village in India, making plows and other farming instruments. He usually was paid with food and rarely received cash from other villagers.

One day something surprising happened. “Two people from the Baptist Church came to my village and asked me to make two dozen iron crosses for their church,” Ballipati Barburao told Final Frontiers Foundation.

They also gave him some Christian tracts about the greatness of Jesus Christ and asked him to read the material and pass it out to his family and neighbors.

When Ballipati read the tract, he was confused. “I went to the Baptist Church to give the iron designs and I asked the pastor to explain about Jesus,” he recounts.

As the two men talked further the pastor explained the gospel to him. Suddenly he understood the true meaning of the crosses he fashioned in the fire. The Holy Spirit convicted Ballipati of his sins and his need for repentance. Then God planted a seed of believing faith in his heart.

“I was absolutely impressed by the preaching and then I confessed my sins and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior,” he says.

The Holy Spirit filled him with a boldness to witness. “From that moment I became a preacher,” Ballipati says, but it was not without a cost.

» Read more about Ballipati’s challenges and how he was delivered through them.

» For a story with a different ending, read a stirring tribute to  Pastor Han, martyred a few days ago after a many years of ministry to North Koreans (Voice of the Martyrs Korea). You may have also heard about two US missionaries just killed in Jamaica.

WORLD: The Portable Gospel and a Portable Dental Chair

Source: Missions Dilemma, April 22, 2016

One of the best known creations from the engineers at I-TEC is their portable dental chair. Through the Indigenous Dental Training (I-DENT program), chairs have been all around the world, from the mountains of Bolivia to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The I-DENT training supplies indigenous Christians with the skills and equipment needed to provide basic dental care in remote areas in the name of Jesus. And because the portable dental chair is light enough to carry as a backpack or to strap to the back of your bicycle as you ride from village to village, the gospel is reaching communities that have never before heard of Jesus Christ.

After receiving the I-DENT training, eight Bolivian men and women are now able to care for their community. Because they have four portable dental chairs, they can travel deep into the mountains and share the gospel through meeting the dental needs of people who have never heard the word “dentist” and have never heard the gospel. It is truly a life-changing ministry.

» Learn more. See another Missions Dilemma article, Why Medical Missions?

Resource Reviews

In This Issue:

  1. BOOK: Help Your Missionaries Thrive
  2. ARTICLE: The Role of Persecution in Movements
  3. ONLINE COURSE: Travel Safety
  4. EVENT: Support Raising Leaders Conference
  5. BOOK: Well Sent
  6. EVENTS: Upcoming Conferences, Training, and More

BOOK: Help Your Missionaries Thrive

Source: GMI Books

Help Your Missionaries Thrive: Leadership Practices that Make a Difference, by Ken Harder and Carla Foote (GMI Books, 2016). 96 pages.

Here’s a book for mission agency leaders, though others might be interested as well. Help Your Missionaries Thrive: Leadership Practices that Make a Difference, by Dr. Ken Harder and Carla Foote, shows leaders how they can improve retention and engagement of field workers by focusing on a handful of simple but powerful leadership practices. The resource tackles challenges such as trust, feedback, listening, decision making, dealing with a crisis, life stages, and more.

This book is based on research conducted by GMI and Best Christian Workplaces, which surveyed 1,771 North American, cross-cultural field workers from seven agencies. It reveals top concerns field workers have about their agencies in the areas of personnel practices, worker involvement in decision making, and servant leadership at all levels. I found it engaging, enlightening, and practical.

» Learn more or purchase from the publisher for US$9.99 (ebook) or US$14.99 (paperback). A Kindle edition is also available on Amazon. See also a GMI infographic about helping missionaries thrive which reflects some of this research.

» Readers might also be interested in watching Knowing Who to Send: Predicting Missionary Fruitfulness and Failure, a recent webinar for church leaders from Sixteen:Fifteen.

ONLINE COURSE: Travel Safety

Source: Sarus Global

Looking for security training for yourself of a short-term team you may be sending out? Check out Sarus Global, which offers reasonably priced online courses designed to prepare students, mission teams, and professionals for traveling overseas. There’s even a course just for solo female travelers. We read about this in Brigada Today, and they added this endorsement:

“They are a faith-based company focusing mainly on mission groups traveling abroad. They are partnered with Good Neighbor Insurance and Standards of Excellence. The CEO spent ten years working for the U.S. Department of State working at embassies training and evaluating threats in foreign countries. The owner’s husband is still involved in law enforcement at a very high level. They’re the real deal.”

» Learn more or sign up for courses.

» See also Crisis Consulting International and Morton Security Solutions (and their seminars on this month’s events calendar). Looking for resources to help you think biblically about risk? See the blog of  Anna Hampton, author of the upcoming book, Facing Danger: A Guide through Risk.

EVENT: Support Raising Leaders Conference

Source: Support Raising Solutions

Involved in equipping new ministry workers, particularly in the area of raising support? Check out Climb, a training event for those who train or coach others in support raising. It will be held October 11-14 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The conference will feature an exciting lineup of keynote speakers, informative break-out sessions, interactive panels, and time for for networking.

» Learn more or register for the event. Sign up this week (by April 30) for an early-bird discount and check out other resources from SRS (like Steve Shadrach’s book, The God Ask).

» Also see this free course on relationship-based fundraising from YWAM.

BOOK: Well Sent

Source: CLC Publications

Well Sent: Reimagining the Church’s Missionary-Sending Process, by Steve Beirn with George Murray. CLC Publications, 2015.

I’ll let this book speak for itself:

“Sending out missionaries has fallen on hard times. Traditionally strong sending countries are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the need for cross-cultural workers. Some postcolonial theology has valued indigenous culture and leaders to the point of becoming anti-missionary. With the emergence of partnerships, the international justice movement, compassion ministries and supporting nationals, sending is more frequently perceived as an outdated ministry paradigm. The perception of sending and the urgency to send has changed over the last twenty to thirty years. This has impacted the ability of churches to accelerate the completion of the Great Commission.

“This book seeks to elevate the role of the local church in the sending effort. The trend in missions today is to place the individual at the center of the sending process. Sometimes the agency is placed at the center. This book places the local church at the center of the sending process. Positioning the church at the center is not only biblically sound, it accomplishes what the individual or agency cannot easily do. It increases the flow of the workers and resources needed to accomplish the task.”

My Pioneers teammates and I appreciated this brief, practical book and hope to share it with many of our church partners. Read it; you might want to do the same.

» Learn more or get a copy. It’s US$12.99 in paperback or $US9.99 for the Kindle edition.

» See also Reimagine Your Missions Team (article from Catalyst Postings).

EVENTS: Conference, Training, and More

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

May 2 to September 4, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Course (online). Provided by the Perspectives Study Program.

May 4-7, International Wholistic Missions Conference (Phoenix, AZ, USA). From the Global CHE Network.

May 5, Planning for Safety on Short-Term Mission Trips (online). Webinar from Mission Nexus.

May 10, Are Compassion Ministries Truly Compassionate? (online). Free, web-based, interactive conversation from The Mission Table.

May 11-12, Interchange (Philadelphia, PA, USA). Bringing church and agency personnel together. Topic: Missions and money. Provided by Catalyst Services.

May 12, CFO: Comprehensive Financial Orchestrator (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

May 12-14, Christian Community Health Conference (Oklahoma City, OK, USA). Provided by the Christian Community Health Fellowship.

May 13-14, People Raising Conference (Oak Brook, IL, USA). Be equipped for raising personal support.

May 13-14, Prayer and Spiritual Warfare ConneXion (Portland, OR, USA). Training event provided by Mission ConneXion.

May 15, International Day for the Unreached (international).

May 15, Global Day of Prayer (global). An annual event.

May 17-18, Support Raising Bootcamp (Pasadena, CA, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

May 18, Short Term Missions Trips | The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (online). Free webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.

May 18-20, Crisis Management Seminar (Orlando, FL, USA). Provided by Crisis Consulting International.

May 19-21, Target Hardening and Resiliency Seminar (Tucson, AZ, USA). Provided by Morton Security Solutions.

May 19-21, Global Children’s Ministry Equip Conference (Chiang Mai, Thailand). An annual event.

May 23 to June 4, Darshan (Chicago, IL, USA). Hindu evangelism training from Christar.

May 26, Women in Leadership: The Lay of the Land and Best Practices (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

May 26-29, Serving Internationals (Estes Park, CO, USA). Annual conference by the Association of Christians Ministering among Internationals (ACMI).

May 27 to June 4, Single Vision Retreat (Lisbon, Portugal). A member care program for singles in the mission community.

June 1-3, Crisis Management Seminar (Columbus, OH, USA). Provided by Crisis Consulting International.

June 3-4, The Justice Conference (Chicago, IL, USA). Annual event to promote dialogue around justice related issues such as human trafficking, slavery, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and human rights.

June 3-13, Refresh! (Thailand). Retreat for cross-cultural workers. Provided by Heartstream Resources.

June 6-17, ACQUIRE (Joplin, MO, USA). Language and culture acquisition training for cross-cultural workers provided by TRAIN International.

June 6 to July 5, 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus (global).

June 6 to August 14, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Course (online). Provided by the Perspectives Study Program.

June 7-11, Sahara Challenge (St. Paul, MN, USA). Intensive training for ministry to Muslims, from Crescent Project.

June 7-28, Mobile Ministry Course (online). Provided by the Mobile Ministry Forum several times a year.

June 14, How Should Followers of Christ Respond to Radical Islam? (online). Free, web-based, interactive conversation from The Mission Table.

June 15, Business As Mission (online). Free webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.

June 19, World Refugee Sunday (international). Churches praying for refugees and displaced people. Some also observing this event June 26.

June 20 to September 11, Encountering the World of Islam (online). Course on embracing Muslims with the love of Christ.

June 22 to July 2, Breathe Conference (Wilderswil, Switzerland). Ten-day retreat for renewal and encouragement for cross-cultural workers.

June 23-24, Legacy Conference (Grand Rapids, MI, USA). A conference about Muslims, missions, and the heart of God; provided by Horizons International.

June 23-25, National African-American Missions Conference (Vienna, VA, USA).

June 28-29, Support Raising Bootcamp (Plano, TX, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

June 28-30, Amplify Conference: Multiplying Evangelism in the Local Church (Wheaton, IL, USA). Sponsored by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.

» View the calendar or submit an addition or correction.

ARTICLE: The Role of Persecution in Movements

Source: The Long View

“Recently, in South Asia, I was interviewing leaders of a major movement. One of the questions I asked was: over your years of ministry, what habits, disciplines, or mindsets have helped you to endure in ministry and eventually become fruitful? The question was being translated and was eventually shortened to, ‘over the years, what has helped you grow in ministry?’ (which is similar but not quite the same thing and led to some interesting answers). One of the leaders, without pausing a second, answered: ‘Persecution.’ ”

» Read about six effects of persecution and four ways we can respond. See also other articles and resources from Justin Long.

World News Briefs

In This Issue: Extreme and Surprising News

  1. RUSSIA: Gospel Enters the Unknown
  2. BHUTAN: A “Happy” Place, But Not for All
  3. JORDAN: Most Hospitable Nation
  4. ERITREA: World’s Harshest Conditions
  5. BURMA: Rescuing Hunted Children
  6. MALAYSIA: Court Upholds Right to Convert from Islam

Yakutsk is the coldest region on earth, with temperatures frequently well below zero. Yet the believers are warm, friendly, and faithful, say sources at Slavic Gospel Association. See related story below.


This week’s news is full of “extremes.” Read about the coldest city on earth, the place with the most child soldiers, the “happiest” country, the most hospitable nation, and the place with the harshest conditions. Also read what I find most surprising of all, a story about a Malaysian court upholding the right to convert from Islam!

Extremely happy,

RUSSIA: Gospel Enters the Unknown

Source: Mission Network News, April 6, 2016

Through Slavic Gospel Association, God is revealing himself to those who’ve never heard his name. Eric Mock recently traveled to Yakutsk, Russia, as part of a new program taking root.

“Yakutsk is a city that is known as the coldest city on the planet. Temperatures, I have heard: as low as 70 below zero. But very often 40-50 degrees below zero in the winter,” Mock exclaims.

“In fact, in this area, people are still herding reindeer. The area is very rugged and remote. It’s not hard to see why with those temperatures.”

Missionary work in this area is hard. Not simply because of the cold, but also because the only way to get into the area is by passing over snowy roads and frozen rivers during its harshest season. Why not travel in the spring or summer, you ask? Simple. Mud. It’s more difficult passing through the mud than it is over snow and ice.

But what isn’t so well known about this Russian land is its growing church population. While growing churches [may not] seem like a big deal in the West, it is when the first church in the area was planted in 1994.

» Read full story, which describes efforts to provide Bible training for church leaders.

» Readers might also be interested to hear about ministry to unreached Siberian Tatars (Operation Mobilization).

BHUTAN: A “Happy Place,” But Not for All

Source: World Watch Monitor, April 14, 2016

The visit of the young UK Royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to Bhutan is shining a spotlight on a small Himalayan nation perhaps best known for its own King assessing his country’s performance by factors which contribute to “Gross National Happiness.”

But despite this apparent endeavor from the Buddhist nation to ensure its citizens’ felicity, Bhutan’s minorities—including around 20,000 Christians (2.8 percent of the population)—complain that happiness does not filter down to all parts of society.

Bhutan’s state religion is Buddhism and other religions are barely tolerated, so life as a Christian is difficult. Church buildings are illegal and non-Buddhists are not privy to the same benefits, such as free education. Proselytism and incitement to convert are illegal. Bhutanese who convert to Christianity can lose their citizenship.

Converts to Christianity endure threats and pressures from village heads and clerics to return to Buddhism. They can pray and worship privately in their homes, but they struggle to meet in congregations and to obtain official permission to do so. Some Christians have reported losing their jobs after their employers found out they were Christian.

» Read full story.

» Pray for Bhutan using a three-minute video from Prayercast.

JORDAN: Most Hospitable Nation

Source: Cry Out, March 2016

On February 2, King Abdullah of Jordan appealed for greater international assistance to enable his country to continue to sustain the numerous refugee communities across Jordan. The major communities are Iraqis and Syrians and they are equivalent to 20 percent of the population. The effects on housing, schooling, medical facilities, and the jobs market are becoming acute. Some live in camps, the largest of which, Zaatari, has become the fourth largest city/town in Jordan. Most, though, live dispersed throughout the country.

Less well known is that the country hosts groups of displaced persons from an estimated 40 other countries. These groups, and those endeavoring to support them, point out that few resources are being provided for them; Iraqis and Syrians get all the attention.

Let us pray that:

  • Jordan will remain a stable and peaceful country despite the conflicts affecting many of its neighbors.
  • Christians active in meeting humanitarian needs will know the Father’s provision, the Spirit’s enabling and radiate the Son’s love and life.
  • The bereaved, wounded, and traumatized will know the healing of Jesus and find new hope.
  • The economy will be expanded and infrastructure developed to provide jobs, housing, schools, etc. for the benefit of all those resident in Jordan.

» Read full story.

ERITREA: World’s Harshest Conditions

Source: Jubilee Campaign, February 29, 2016

The small East African countries of Eritrea and Somalia have produced thousands upon thousands of refugees who have fled to other African countries and Europe. Reports have estimated that nearly 5,000 people flee Eritrea each month.

The Committee to Protect Journalists stated Eritrea is “the most censored country in the world.” Only 1 percent of Eritreans can access the Internet. What’s more, as the Eritrean government is so strongly guarded against its citizens, any public gathering of seven or more requires a permit from the government.

Thousands of mostly Evangelical Christians are thought to be detained indefinitely, some of which are held in metal shipping containers. Although some were initially released after pledging to renounce their faith, none have been formally charged or tried and all are held until they provide similar denials of faith. During the past 15 years, these deplorable detention conditions have been inflicted upon tens of thousands of Evangelical Christians caught during Bible studies in private homes or otherwise seeking to practice their faith outside of the registered denominations.

» Read full story and see a website launched by the UNHCR, Telling The Real Story, which features first-hand accounts, audio messages, poetry, photos, and videos from Eritreans and Somalis who crossed the Mediterranean seeking a new life in Europe.

» In a recent story from a neighboring country, read (and pray about) Ethiopia Attack: 200 People Dead, 100 Children Missing (Al Jazeera).

BURMA: Rescuing Hunted Children

Source: Vision Beyond Borders, March 19, 2016

Burma/Myanmar has enslaved more child soldiers than any country in the world. In one area of heavy recruitment, our contact shared that “children as young as 10 years old are taken by the army, the boys to be soldiers and the girls to be in supportive military roles. Many children run away to the Buddhist monasteries because the soldiers do not bother the monasteries. But if a child who ran to the monastery goes home to visit his parents and the soldiers find out, they will come right away to kidnap that child.” One brave couple has taken up arms to rescue these vulnerable targets.

“Joseph” did not begin with this ministry in mind. One day, as he was traveling to share the Gospel in a predominantly Buddhist area, a Buddhist couple asked him to take care of their two boys. They were terrified that their children would be taken by the militia. Joseph could barely take care of his own family, so he told them he could not care for two more children. Two months later, the boys ran to a monastery to hide. Joseph and his wife felt terrible, thinking they had wasted a chance to bring these boys to Christ; they inquired of the Lord if it was his will for them to take some of these children in, and felt his confirming “Yes.”

» Read full story to learn about the 30 children Joseph’s family cares for.

» Also read 2016 Brings Change to Myanmar (Open Doors).

MALAYSIA: Court Upholds Right to Convert From Islam

Source: World Watch Monitor, March 29, 2016

In a landmark ruling, a Malaysian court upheld the rights of a Christian to convert from Islam. The judgment establishes a precedent in a country where religious conversions, particularly from Islam to Christianity, have been steeped in controversy.

The verdict reaffirms the supremacy of the Federal Constitution, which under Article 11 defends every Malaysian citizen’s right to freedom of religion.

For Rooney Rebit, the plaintiff, the decision could not have come at a more opportune time than in Holy Week: he was asking judicial authorities to declare that his belief in Jesus Christ was a fundamental human right.

The High Court in Kuching, Sarawak state, duly agreed. The judge, Yew Ken Jie, said: “He is free to exercise his right of freedom to religion, and he chose Christianity.”

Rebit was born into a Christian family in 1975, but his parents converted to Islam when he was eight years old. His Muslim name was Azmi Mohamad Azam Shah.

In 1999, Rebit embraced Christianity and was baptized.

In her decision, Judge Yew ruled that Rebit could not be considered to have officially professed Islam, because it was not his choice to embrace the religion. But when he became a Christian at the age of 24, he was mature enough to make a conscious decision.

» Read full story.