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Where Prayer and Missions Connect | May Resource Reviews

  1. EVENT: Prayercast Ramadan Challenge
  2. APPLICATION: Daily Prayer
  3. ARTICLE: Just Don’t Do It!
  4. ARTICLES: Latest from Lausanne Global Analysis
  5. EVENTS: June Conferences, Courses, and More

“If added power attends the united prayer of two or three, what mighty triumphs there will be when hundreds of thousands of consistent members of the Church are with one accord day by day making intercession for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom.”

— John R. Mott


Source: Operation World, May 12, 2017

Operation World (OW), the definitive global prayer handbook, has been used by more than a million Christians to pray for the nations. Now, with a new prayer app for mobile devices, you can receive reminders to pray for the “country of the day,” research statistics on each country, and read the in-depth prayer request and praise reports given for each country of the world.

You may find this handy for folding prayer for the nations into daily devotions, small group meetings, and more. Mobilizers, this could be a good follow-up to prayer for the Muslim world (see above) or a discipline to invite those you mentor to consider.

» Download for free from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

EVENT: Prayercast Ramadan Challenge

A Simple Plan to Profoundly Impact the Muslim World

Source: Prayercast

We are bombarded almost daily with news of barbaric acts of terrorism. But if all we know about Islam is what we see on the news, we are missing an incredible story:

  • The greatest turning of Muslims to Christ in history is happening now.
  • Everywhere Islam exists, people are being drawn to Jesus Christ.
  • This is happening in direct correlation to increased movements of prayer.

God is MOVING, and he’s inviting you to join him.

Now is the time to PRAY because Jesus loves and died to save every one of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today.

Join Prayercast on a journey across the Muslim world during the month of Ramadan (this year May 27 to June 25). Each week we will focus on a different region, loving and lifting up representative nations in prayer.

Join the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge:

  1. Pray for the featured topic each day.
  2. Sign up below to receive daily reminders.
  3. Invite at least one other person to join you.

» Learn more or sign up here or TEXT ramadan to 22828, and poke around the Prayercast website for lots of great prayer videos and other resources.

» See also the more widespread and established campaign, 30 Days of Payer for the Muslim World, and/or pray with and for those you know serving in the Muslim world during this season of heightened spiritual awareness (and sometimes violence or tension).

ARTICLE: Just Don’t Do It!

Becoming a Missionary: Smart Steps toward Serving

Source: SEND International, The Missions Blog, May 16, 2017

We hear over and over again from our missionaries that their paths to the field started with a still small voice that amplified over months, years, sometimes even decades.

Maybe you’ve heard the whisper but don’t yet know if it’s time to go. You aren’t raising support, packing your bags, or saying goodbye yet, but your daily decisions can still significantly help—or hinder—your ability to effectively engage the unreached in a cross-cultural setting.

If even in the very back of your mind you think you might want to become a missionary, here are some pitfalls to avoid:

  1. Don’t ignore your local church.
  2. Don’t focus solely on your home culture.
  3. Don’t stay put.
  4. Don’t take on more debt.

» Read the article. You could share it with prospective missionaries in your world or consider adding The Missions Blog to your regular reading list.

» See also The Christian Missions Blog (from TEAM), which recently featured eight public speaking tips for missionaries and eight things missionaries wish their supporters knew.

ARTICLES: Latest from Lausanne Global Analysis

Source: Lausanne Movement, May 2017

Lausanne Global Analysis seeks to deliver strategic and credible information and insight from an international network of evangelical analysts to equip influencers of global mission. Browse all the past issues and/or subscribe to email alerts to be notified as soon as new issues are published.

The May issue has a strong theme of engaging with and reaching out to Muslims. They look at how refugees in Europe are turning to Christ and in turn reviving the church there; assess disciple-making movements as a biblical solution for the remaining task of reaching least evangelized peoples; consider how we should view Islam and the importance of developing a biblical worldview that gives a framework for relating to Muslims; and, finally, ask what the Caliphate means and how we should respond to many Muslims’ aspirations for it.

» Read the editor’s overview of this edition. The next issue is scheduled to come out in July.

EVENTS: June Conference, Courses, and More

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

June 2-3, Prayer ConneXion (Portland, OR, USA). Where prayer and mission connect. Provided by Mission ConneXion.

June 4, International Day for the Unreached (international).

June 4, Global Day of Prayer (global). An annual event (see downloadable resources from WayMakers)

June 5-10, TOTAL It Up! Taste of Translation and Linguistics (Orlando, FL, USA). Provided by Wycliffe Bible Translators.

June 5-16, ACQUIRE (Joplin, MO, USA). Language and culture acquisition training for cross-cultural workers provided by TRAIN International.

June 5 to August 13, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Course (online). Provided by the Perspectives Study Program.

June 5 to August 27, Encountering the World of Islam (online). A 12-week course on embracing Muslims with the love of Christ.

June 8-10, Serving Internationals (Virginia Beach, VA, USA). Annual conference by the Association of Christians Ministering among Internationals (ACMI).

June 9-10, 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 12-16, Global DMM Catalyst Camp (Nairobi, Kenya). See inside disciple-making movements.

June 17-25, Single Vision Retreat (Basel, Switzerland). A member care program for singles in the mission community.

June 18, World Refugee Sunday (international). Churches praying for refugees and displaced people. Some also observing this event June 25.

June 19-21, Honor-Shame Conference (Wheaton, IL, USA). Inaugurating the Honor-Shame Network, working together to reframe our message for 21st-century ministry.

June 19-30, Engaging Islam Institute (Boulder, CO, USA). Provided by Horizons International.

June 20-24, Sahara Challenge (St. Paul, MN, USA). Training in ministry to Muslims provided by Crescent Project.

June 21 to July 1, Breathe (Wilderswil, Switzerland). Ten-day retreat for the renewal of cross-cultural workers, provided by Catalyst International.

June 22-24, National African-American Missions Conference (McLean, VA, USA). Theme: “Send Me.”

June 23-25, Rethinking Forum 2017 (Houston, TX, USA). Conference for those walking alongside Hindus as they explore a relationship with Jesus.

June 25-30, TOTAL It Up! Taste of Translation and Linguistics (Lancaster, PA, USA). Provided by Wycliffe Bible Translators.

June 26-27, Personal Support Raising Boot Camp (Orlando, FL, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

June 27-29, Amplify Conference (Naperville, IL, USA). National conference on evangelism sponsored by the Billy Graham Center (and others).

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

Worship in the Wilderness | World News Briefs

In This Issue:

  1. ERITREA: Anniversary Protest Vigil
  2. CHINA: When You Can’t Blend In
  3. INDONESIA: Christian Governor Imprisoned for Blasphemy
  4. VIETNAM: Overcoming Difficulties
  5. ZIMBABWE: Father of Gospel Music

Helen is an Eritrean gospel singer who spent 32 months imprisoned by the Eritrean authorities in a shipping container. Freezing cold at night and burning hot by day, and even tortured, Helen chose to worship. In her wilderness, God gave her a new song. See story below.


Do you know that there are more than 30 “protracted” refugee situations in the world today? In each situation, more than over 25,000 refugees have been displaced for more than five years with no resolution in sight. Want to educate your fellowship about refugees with World Refugee Sunday approaching? As I sleuth for news I’ve found some really good stuff that will reveal the depths of their plight and give you some fresh ideas on how you can help.

Thursday, May 18, a coalition for the persecuted in Eritrea will protest in the UK as they declare 15 years of oppression is enough. See the story below.

Praying for those without hope,

ERITREA: Anniversary Protest Vigil

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, April 26, 2017

While imprisoned in a shipping container, God gave Helen Berhane a new song, enabling her to endure the beatings, torture, and imprisonment designed to break her and destroy her faith. Helen was eventually released after a severe and debilitating assault and was able to flee the country. Others aren’t as fortunate. Thousands of Eritreans of all faiths and none are currently imprisoned without charge, trial, or prospect of release, and unknown numbers have died in detention.

It’s now 15 years since the Eritrean government shut down churches from all but three denominations and began a campaign of mass arrests that also affects members of permitted denominations.

On Thursday, May 18, CSW will be joining with Church in Chains, the Evangelical Alliance, Human Rights Concern Eritrea, the Medhani Alem Eritrean Orthodox Church, and Release Eritrea to protest the continuing repression suffered by the people of Eritrea and to pray for change.

» Read complete article. Listen to Helen Berhane’s story in Worship in the Wilderness (less than six minutes in length).

» Have an hour? Check out The Eritrean Exodus documentary, well worth the US$3.99 I paid to stream it. Proceeds support refugees. Watch trailer.

CHINA: When You Can’t Blend In

Source: OMF International, May 3, 2017

I expected the bizarre scrutiny of the locals, to some degree, anyway. Foreigners were strange people they occasionally saw on TV. If such a being was somehow in the vicinity, their pale skin and curious dress sense caused them to stand out—that and the crowd of people staring at them. However, I don’t think I was quite prepared for the strangely amusing shock that my being black would be for the Chinese.

In China, basketball enjoys a popularity equivalent to that of football in Britain, so a bald-headed black man in Northwest China could only mean one of two things: a holidaying NBA star or one who was lost. I found the phrase “Wo bu shi Michael Jordan” (“I am not Michael Jordan”) extremely useful.

It suddenly clicked that this unexpected “fame” would be a great way to get conversations (albeit limited ones) going, and to share the gospel. Top idea, I thought. One of the things I grew to realize more and more during my seven weeks in China was that God’s ideas are so much better than mine.

» Read full story to see how God worked during Kenton’s visit to China. Please pray for others who will spend a few weeks or months in cross-cultural service this summer. Ask the Lord to bless them and make them a blessing.

INDONESIA: Christian Governor Imprisoned for Blasphemy

Source: WEA Religious Liberty Commission newsletter, May 15, 2017

On May 9, 2017, the governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was convicted on charges of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced to two years in jail by the North Jakarta District Court.

Purnama, Indonesia’s foremost Christian politician, was appointed as governor of Jakarta in 2014. However, in the wake of blasphemy allegations, Purnama lost his bid for re-election last month.

According to reports, prosecutors had recommended a suspended one-year jail sentence on charges of hate speech. The judges, nevertheless, ignored the prosecutors’ demand. Following the verdict, Purnama’s lawyers stated that they would appeal the court’s ruling. The governor, though, is expected to remain imprisoned during the appeal process.

  • Pray that the District Court’s decision will be overturned by a higher court.
  • Pray for the quick release of Purnama.
  • Pray for God’s protection over him during his imprisonment.
  • Pray for God’s comforting presence upon his family and loved ones during this time of distress.

» Read full story or subscribe to the WEA newsletters.

» See also a related article Christian Governor in Indonesia Found Guilty of Blasphemy against Islam (New York Times) and read about a further development, Indonesia to Review Anti-blasphemy Laws (Straits Times).

VIETNAM: Overcoming Difficulties

Source: Christian Aid Missions, May 4, 2017

Vietnam’s new law on religion has generated much debate in the human rights community, but church leaders know for certain only that difficult realities will continue—and that they can speak of them only in hushed tones.

The new law passed in November crystallizes previous ordinances on church registration and controls, and little is expected to change when it takes effect on January 1, 2018. Registering with the Communist government will continue to be difficult if not impossible for some churches, and those that do will be hampered by prohibitions on Sunday school classes and taking Communion, especially in rural areas.

Church leaders unwilling to submit their congregations to religious freedom violations accompanying registration then leave themselves open to arrest.

» Full story describes efforts to support those affected.

» From another part of the world, see Ethiopian State Considers Restricting Christian Activity to Church Buildings (World Watch Monitor).

ZIMBABWE: Father of Gospel Music

We’ll end this edition of News Briefs on an upbeat note. The Global Christian Worship blog recently highlighted news about a Zimbabwean worship leader whom you may find inspiring:

“Known as the father of gospel music in Zimbabwe and heralded around the world simply as a great musician and songwriter, Machanic Manyeruke’s rise to international fame from humble origins carries profoundly inspiring and telling lessons,” says James Ault, producer of an upcoming documentary of Manyeruke.

» Watch a short video about the project (for which the funding is now complete) and check out Ault’s website to learn about other documentary films exploring world Christianity. They look interesting.

Waiting Tables with a Famous Evangelist

Waiting Tables with a Famous Evangelist Seven Reasons Why the Smart Also Serve

By Shane Bennett

When in last month’s Practical Mobilization, we left Philip the Apostle, he had stumbled grievously. Maybe, in the past four weeks, you have stumbled as well. I have. Rejoice in this with me: Stumbling does not mean disqualification. There is no mess too big for God, but the trick is to get back up when you stumble. God’s work to redeem all things includes you.

Now we move on to Philip the second, the one they call Philip the Evangelist. His career took off when, of all things, he was assigned to wait tables … and not because a hip new place opened on State Street and the tips rocked, but because a low-level ethnic conflict meant some dear old widows missed lunch!

Luke records in Acts 4 that the apostles, hearing about the problem, asked around for “seven men from among you known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.” They found them, laid hands on them, and gave them the job.

Apparently, Philip and the others nailed it. I don’t think they’d take all the credit, but Luke does end the vignette by saying, in verse 7, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

Things were going great for the deacons until one of them, Stephen, starting moonlighting by performing signs and wonders. Opposition arose. He was tried and killed. This uncorked major persecution and everyone—save the apostles—got out of Dodge. As for Philip, he made his way to a city in Samaria and began to go all “Stephen” on them. People paid attention. Luke tells us, “There was great joy in that city.”

When the apostles came down to certify this new ministry, an angel told Philip to hit the road, the desert road. He did, bumped into an Ethiopian eunuch, and was instrumental in the gospel moving into Africa.

The waiter! The waiter gets to play a brief, but crazily significant role in the advance of the gospel. (I’m going to start tipping better.)

There’s much to learn from Philip’s life, but I’d like to focus on his service. Without trying to read too much into the text, it seems that this was a foundational part of his character. Likewise, service is a significant part of mission mobilization, and often an overlooked part (if my own life is any indication).

Let me say here that some of the best servants I’ve ever seen have been mission mobilizers, and I’m thinking of Perspectives Course coordinators in particular. The last thing I want to do is load up your tired back with more burdens. If the Holy Spirit says, “You’re serving well, so let this slide,” listen! There’s always the chance I’m writing this mainly for me.

Still, here are seven reminders why picking up a towel and wiping some tables is a good idea for mobilizers.

1. Stuff needs to be done.

Before we get all spiritual about this, how about some practicality? A laundry list of grubby work needs to be tackled, including sometimes literally laundry! Things need to be put away. People need to be listened to. Cute little noses need to be wiped. These are kingdom concerns. Let’s do the ones that fall to us.

2. Jesus modeled service.

One episode in the life of Jesus that you hope doesn’t come to mind when you’re trying to dodge an unwanted service opportunity is when Jesus got down on the floor and washed those grubby apostolic feet. The one who made the dirt and fashioned the first feet said, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”

I suppose the list could stop at two items, but there’s more.

3. The Bible instructs us to serve.

Perhaps remembering his mini-bath debate with Jesus, Peter writes in his first letter, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” In many other places, we’re told the life of Jesus is one of putting others ahead of ourselves as we put God ahead of everything. This isn’t easy, but it is clear.

4. Serving trains us for further service.

Is it possible that Philip’s record of service somehow suited him for outreach in his Samaritan city? I don’t want to make too much of this, but Jesus did say that faithfulness in small things leads to opportunity for faithfulness in bigger things. I like to think that Philip’s time at the tables developed internal character, qualifying him to work effectively as an evangelist.

Credibility is a key payoff here. I love a volunteer who will put away tables, do data entry, and drive the van when it would be more fun to snooze in the back seat. If we haven’t logged some hours in the nursery, we may not be ready for the missions committee.

5. Service is a tangible expression of love.

In Galatians 5:13, Paul says to use our freedom to, “serve one another in love.” One of the clearest ways to live out “I love you” is to serve the one you love. They go hand in hand. As with Philip before us, simply bringing food to someone or clearing away their dirty dishes speaks a great deal. Some of my living heroes of the faith are those who see a need and quietly go about meeting it. Sometimes you have to be sharp to observe this because the good servants do it on the down low.

6. Serving models service for others.

Years ago I took a missions pastor role and moved to Indiana. My new church had a community service day just after our arrival—like hours after our arrival. I didn’t really want to go, and it technically wasn’t part of my job description, but my dad swayed me and got me there! When we arrived at the site I was pleasantly surprised to see the senior pastor, my new boss, pulling weeds alongside a church member who was the owner of a significant local company. That marked me. We didn’t always live it out 100%, but we were a community who served.

7. Serving is an antidote for arrogance.

Since you probably need no such antidote, let me just share about myself here: Sometimes when you read what I write or when people listen to me talk, I begin to think I know a thing or two. Then it’s a short jump to a confident sense that I do know what’s right. And pretty soon, I’ve figured out how nearly everyone else is off in their approach to missions, while I’m right on! Cleaning a dirty toilet tends to dial down my arrogance meter.

As you work out the calling God has given you, may you challenge the church boldly, love them deeply, and serve with great gusto, as one who has indeed been served by the King of kings.

» Comment on our website or Facebook page or email Shane.

World News Briefs

  1. WORLD: How Do Christians Respond to Persecution?
  2. TAJIKISTAN: Christians Songs and Books Lead to Arrest for Extremism
  3. CAMBODIA: The Shepherd Who Goes After His Sheep
  4. WORLD: Sign Language Bible Translation Gains New Standards
  5. MEXICO: Reaching Tribal Villagers

…and lots of links to more!

WORLD: How Do Christians Respond to Persecution?

The documentary Under Caesar’s Sword documentary reports the findings of the global research project on Christian responses to persecution.

Though global persecution of Christians has been well documented, the response of global Christians to attacks has not been as well researched. Under Caesar’s Sword is “the world’s first systematic global investigation into the responses of Christian communities to persecution,” including country-by-country analysis, global patterns, and recommendations.

» Download the report and related resources from the University of Notre Dame, or read Here’s the Million-Dollar Answer to How Persecuted Christians Persevere (Christianity Today).

TAJIKISTAN: Christian Songs and Books Lead to Arrest for Extremism

Source: Forum 18, April 28, 2017

The NSC secret police in Khujand arrested Protestant pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov on April 10 after raiding his church and seizing Christian literature. Officials claim songbooks and the book More Than a Carpenter are “extremist.” The pastor is being investigated on “extremism” criminal charges.

The NSC secret police asserts that the songs “Praise God, oh the godless country,” “God’s army is marching,” “Our fight is not against flesh and blood,” are “extremist.” Protestants pointed out that the words of these songs are references to texts of the Bible. Officers told church members during interrogations that these songs are “extremist and call on the people to overthrow the government.”

» Read full story.

» See also Tajikistan Opens A New Chapter: No Books Allowed In Or Out Without Approval (Radio Free Europe) and Young Professionals Quietly Transforming Muslim-Majority Central Asia for Christ (Christian Broadcasting Network).

CAMBODIA: The Shepherd Who Goes after His Sheep

Source: OMF International, April 28, 2017

It was Good Friday and I was driving home after dark with Lai, my house helper, and her four children on our way back from picnicking at a waterfall. Shortly into the drive, on a quiet forested road, I saw a young tribal woman. She was maybe 16 years old, barefooted, and carrying a baby. I stopped the car and asked Lai to approach the girl to see if we could help drive her somewhere.

Through the windows, I saw something like a heated exchange happening, so I got out of the car to see what the problem was. The young girl was hysterical. Through heavy sobs, she was telling Lai how she was fleeing her husband, a drug dealer, who had been beating her. She was trying to get to her parents’ village, but it was so far and she could hardly walk anymore. We told her not to be afraid, but to let us drive her to where she needed to go. She sat in the front of the car with Lai, who held the girl in her arms and told her that Jesus knows all about her suffering and dearly loves her. “I know,” the girl replied. “I was just praying to him. I said to him, ‘If you really love me, Jesus, if you really, really love me, you will not make me walk all this way to my parents’ house.’ Then your car came!”

The girl explained how she had once known Jesus but had left her faith two years ago when she married her husband. “When I was a believer I was happy,” she told us. “Since I left Jesus, my life has been very bad.” Lai lovingly ministered to the girl, giving her advice on what she needed to do to repent and start afresh with God. “Yes,” the girl replied, “I want to start again with God.” We left her in the embrace of her Christian family who thanked us heartily as their daughter, still sobbing, explained how God had heard her prayer and sent us to rescue her.

As I meditated that night on what had happened, it dawned on me that I had just witnessed something like the parable of the lost son unfolding before my eyes. I went to bed that night praising God that though the sheep may wander, the shepherd graciously goes after them.

» Read full story and another from OMF about a former witch doctor and her struggles to walk with God.

» Also pray for Hmong families in neighboring Laos who have been expelled from their village because of their faith (Voice of the Martyrs).

WORLD: Sign Language Bible Translation Gains New Standards

Source: Mission Network News, May 1, 2017

“Hearing organizations have been doing Bible translation for hundreds of years, but it’s only been within the past 20 or 30 years that sign language Bible translation has even been considered, or even begun to take place,” says Rob Myers of DOOR International.

Thanks to the work of DOOR and several other Deaf ministries, “We now have standards for sign language Bible translation that all organizations should be following.”

“[Sign language Bible translation is] probably going to be one of the biggest needs in fulfilling the Great Commission and fulfilling this idea that every people group needs a Bible in their heart language,” Myers notes.

» Read full story and learn about some of the new standards. Another MNN article describes unique struggles Deaf Christians may face.

MEXICO: Reaching Tribal Villagers

Source: Christian Aid Mission, April 20, 2017

In an area of southern Mexico that for centuries has shielded itself from all foreign influence, including the Spanish conquest, a tribal villager who decided to follow Jesus quickly met with hostility from family and friends.

The animist villagers in southern Oaxaca State reproached Reynaldo for abandoning the cosmology of his ancestors—a worldview in which trees, rocks, and other elements of nature were imbued with volatile spirits.

“In many cases I didn’t even know why I was doing the animist rituals, except ‘to not anger the spirits,’ and a life full of doing that never fulfilled me,” he said before being baptized recently. “Now I’ve decided to follow the Lord whatever the cost.”

“These are people that have resisted Western influence for 500 years—to reach them, it takes an average of seven to 10 years,” said [Mariano, an indigenous missionary]. “You have to give your life to the work, and eventually you’ll be accepted by the community, and they’ll give you some land to work and a place in their society.”

Oaxaca is said to be the most ethnically diverse entity in the world; in one 36-square mile area of the state, more than 200 languages and dialects are spoken. Half of the indigenous language-speaking people in Oaxaca do not speak Spanish.

» Read full story.

» Readers, have you heard that another ministry that serves among tribal peoples has just changed its name? New Tribes Mission is now Ethnos360.

Resource Reviews

  1. INFOGRAPHIC: Beyond Prayer Flags and Statues
  2. PODCAST: Sabbath Rest in Missions
  3. BOOKLET: Ten Tips for Exegeting Your Culture
  4. BOOKS: New Titles in Missiology
  5. TRAINING: Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills
  6. EVENTS: Upcoming Conferences, Courses, and More


Feel the need for some time out to rest, reflect, or retool? This month’s resource reviews have something for you… or maybe something you can share with others in your ministry or circle. Found something new, helpful or inspiring, or worth sharing with other readers? I hope you’ll let us know.

One more thing. We just got word from friends at Global Mapping International (GMI) that after 33 years providing vital information and insight to the global church (see, for example, a piece from their Missiographics collection below), they are closing their doors June 30. We are sad to see them go!

Yesterday’s press release says,

“As it winds down its pioneering work, GMI is taking the unusual step of granting to other organizations in the mission community much of the intellectual property it has created, to ensure ongoing access to these essential tools and information.”

Connected to an organization that might be interested in stewarding some of these great knowledge resources? Learn more about what you can do. And please pray for their staff in this transition. Thanks!