In this issue: Sharing donuts in Japan’s city of peace
- JAPAN: Of Donuts and Atom Bombs
- NORTHEAST AFRICA: Community Garden for the Zaila
- MALI: Kidnapped Swiss Missionary Still Alive
- CAMEROON: 5,000 Kapsiki Speakers Brave Danger to Welcome Bible
- IRAN: A Media Mogul Comes to Christ
I’ve seen sports, music, mountain climbing, and even surfing ministries that are designed to open doors for the gospel. Have we neglected the ministry of food? Nothing connects people like food!
Granted, it can also be divisive. Half of my household is now vegan, some of us have high blood sugar, and—shortly after buying 17 chickens—I discovered I have high cholesterol. So I’m a food pusher and a food cop, pushing eggs on my vegan kids while scolding my husband and mother-in-law for eating foods too high on the glycemic index.
My family’s spats are nothing compared to the war over hummus (see Give Chickpeas a Chance: Why Hummus Unites, and Divides, The Mideast), worse yet, the one over beef eating in North India. Perhaps our enemy knows the power of shared food?
I’m reading Tim Chester’s book A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table and watching Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Bread Making to mobilize myself and my tribe for welcoming international students. For additional inspiration and ideas about reaching international students, check out the latest edition of Mission Frontiers.
Whether you make your own healthy delights at home, help plant a community garden, or hang out with seekers in a donut shop in Japan (see stories below), may God bless your efforts to invite people to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” After all, he is the Bread of Life!
Source: Pioneers USA, June 16, 2016
A ministry team is trying to introduce the people of Hiroshima to an everlasting source of peace, one donut at a time.
» Watch video.
Source: Frontiers USA, June 16, 2016
In a remote corner of Northeast Africa live the Zaila people. They are living versions of the desert land where they reside—hard, austere, and seemingly impenetrable. For generations, these staunch Muslims have had no one reaching them with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
John and Rachel Miller had never heard of the Zaila when they first responded to God’s call to reach the nations for his glory.
But the Millers had heard of unengaged people groups—those who have no churches, no believers, and no messengers of the Kingdom trying to share the Gospel with them. They were convinced that even the most remote communities need a chance to hear about Jesus. John and Rachel decided they could be part of the solution and go to the Muslim world where the need for the Gospel is greatest.
As John and Rachel worked to recruit their team, they moved to a capital city in the region. They began looking for open doors to serve further afield where they could live among an unengaged people. At that time, the Zaila were one of Northeast Africa’s largest unengaged Muslim people groups. As they started meeting Zailas living in the capital, God stirred their hearts for this lost people.
Then they met a chief from Adaye, a remote Zaila village.
“Our people are hungry,” the chief told John, an agriculturalist, “and we don’t have a produce market in our town. Would you help us start a garden for the village?”
» You might also be interested in A Tale of Two Farmers, which brings together a man who grew up helping with the wheat harvest in Kansas and Oklahoma and a very different kind of farmer in Japan (SEND International).
Source: World Watch Monitor, June 17, 2016
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has released a video, purporting to show that a Swiss nun kidnapped in Mali in January is alive and in good health.
The three-minute video, posted on social media [on 16 June], shows a veiled Beatrice Stockly speaking in French, saying that she has been detained for 130 days but is in good health and has been treated well, although it has been very hot. She concludes by thanking her family and the Swiss government for all their efforts to secure her release.
» Read full story, which includes links to previous coverage, and see also a report from the International Business Times which refers to Stockly “the last Westerner living in Timbuktu.”
Source: United Bible Societies, July 11, 2016
Usually, large gatherings are banned in Cameroon’s Far North region, due to high security risks—Boko Haram has carried out a number of deadly attacks there. But on June 4, the iconic mountains near Mogodé—a town very close to the Nigerian border—witnessed an unprecedented crowd of 5,000 Kapsiki people celebrating the launch of the first Bible in their language.
Special authorization was granted to hold the gathering, and 250 soldiers were provided for protection by the general in charge of the region’s armed forces.
The day before the launch, the town organized a grand parade to welcome the new Bibles as special guests of honor as they arrived in the back of a military truck. In fact, the convoy carrying the new Bibles, Bible Society staff, and soldiers received a rapturous welcome in every Kapsiki village that it passed during its 120-kilometer journey from the Bible Society’s offices in Maroua to Mogodé.
As the truck pulled up outside the Catholic Church, a crowd of joyful Kapsiki Christians surrounded it. Their singing and dancing continued late into the night.
» See full story with pictures. Pray for the Kapsiki and their neighbors. (I was encouraged to read that one of the first things the Kapsiki did was take up a collection was taken to help other people in Cameroon who do not yet have the Bible in their language.)
Source: Iran Alive Ministries, July 1, 2016
The largest network of secular satellite channels in Iran is owned by a wealthy family that lives outside Iran. This network consists of over eighteen 24/7 channels that cover every interest from movies to sports and from channels dedicated to children to MTV-like music. Two years ago, we started praying for the salvation of this family. Last summer, Soleiman and his wife Sayeh, co-owners of this network, accepted Christ and contacted us. Sayeh explains:
“Having experienced the power of God’s transformation in our lives and being inspired by Pastor Hormoz [of Iran Alive Ministries], my husband and I decided to start a new Christian television station. We had the finances; we had the know-how.
“But as we prayed about starting this Christian TV station, God spoke to my heart: ‘Sayeh, do you want to glorify yourself or me? If you are looking to glorify me, you don’t need to start a new station. I already have one: Iran Alive (Network 7). I want you to work with my network.’”
» Read full story and pray for the continued transformation of Iranian leaders and others who hear the gospel.
» See also another story from this part of the world which describes the recent baptism and protection of 18 former Muslims (Bibles for Mideast, via GodReports).
We know you’re busy, maybe traveling this summer, or maybe getting some good catch-up time with the kids. We are, too. But we don’t want to stop getting helpful stuff in your hands.
For the June, July, and August editions of Practical Mobilization, Shane’s going to share three quick ideas you’ll want to think about and then pass along to your friends and family. In this issue: Timely Travel Tips, Dopes Like Me, and the Value of a Second (or Third) Language.
Reading at (or on your way to) the Perspectives National Conference in Maryland? We’d love to meet you. The first five people who find Shane or Marti and mention seeing this edition can have a free book!
By Shane BennettEighty-two Steps and Other Travel Tips
It was eeeeiiiigghhty tttwwwoooooo steps from the street to the door of our flat in Catania, Sicily last month. That’s 82 steps hammering home a lesson: Bring less stuff! That pretty much sums up my go-to travel advice: Leave it at home. Granted, (A) I’m grateful I don’t have to travel with a CPAP machine, and (B) I don’t require all the accoutrements that some females do.
Honestly, though, I don’t remember the last time I thought, “Dang! I wish I had that thing I left at home.”
A full set of travel tips should go beyond “leave it,” though, so see my friend Carl’s Top 20 Medearis Family Travel Tips. While you’re there, snoop around the site; Carl has written some provocative and helpful words.
If you’re really into travel tips, check these (sometimes contradictory) lists as well: 61 Travel Tips to Make You the World’s Savviest Traveler (Nomadic Matt), a packing list for the traveling gal (A Beautiful Mess), and a list of really cool, I mean helpful, traveling gadgets (Rethink Modern).What Dopes Like Me Can Do
It’s a perennial but pleasant surprise: God can and is apparently happy to use people like me. The most recent edition of the surprise came a couple of weeks ago and swirled around a series of Discovery Bible Studies I had with a young guy from Gambia in a piazza in Sicily. I’ve talked to around 6.3 gazillion Muslims in my day, but this may have been the first time we’d really dug into the Bible together. I walked away thinking, “It’s true what they say… pretty much anyone can do this.”
I often think my mobilization cachet is to leave people with this realization: “If he can do it, I probably can too!” I mean, really, I’m no Lottie Moon or Gladys Aylward. I couldn’t even carry lunch for the Dons (McGavran, McCurry, and Richardson, for those keeping score!). But sometimes God uses me. If you don’t want to hear this, run away now. Otherwise I’m looping you into the group of people that God can use. Yes, you!
Certainly many Missions Catalyst readers, humble though you are, know that God uses you. You don’t need me to remind you. Great. But most of the people we know? They don’t know it! A cursory look at the Bible, history, and our lives says it’s true, though. God delights in using the least likely characters. Yay for us, for God, and for the world who waits to know him.
Check out You’ve Got Libya for the story of one of my heroes who was surprised that God would use the likes of him.Language Learning Is Worth It!
I say this more from observation than experience. Our first group in Catania, Sicily in June interacted almost exclusively in English. They spoke some other languages, but none that were in play locally. And they did amazing things with their English.
The second team, however had some ringers: a woman whose mother tongue was French, a young lady with good Arabic, even though it was Chadian, and a young man who could stumble along in both French and Arabic. The doors these guys opened! We were able to converse with Wolof women from Senegal, extend welcome to 14- and 15-year-old boys fresh off the boat from Egypt, and even score points with a friend who was an imam from Morocco and reluctant to use his English.
Are you working on a second or third language right now? Press on! It’s worth it. Are you considering downloading Duolingo and diving in? Yes! I’m behind you 100 percent. Are you in a position to encourage some young bucks to get another language? Grace to you as you do so. They’ll be annoyed now, but grateful as God opens cool, unexpected doors. (Are you a non-American who’s grown up speaking several languages? Good on you. Thanks for the grace. We’re working on it.)
Missions Catalyst News Briefs 7.6.16
- BRAZIL: Refugee Olympic Team, Symbol of Triumph and Belonging
- RUSSIA: Law Would Curtail Evangelism
- NEPAL: Influential Buddhist Monk Receives Jesus
- CAMBODIA: Journey of a New Testament Begins with Vietnam War Refugees
This Prayercast video asks, “Does God love even them?” Join us in praying for Islamic State and those they target or endanger.
May the recent suicide attacks in Orlando, Bangladesh, Baghdad, and Saudi Arabia serve as a call to press in on praying for our enemies and those they target. At least 250 people were killed in the July 3 attack on Baghdad; drone images capture the devastation (CNN). Pray also for those going to dangerous places to love and serve those in some of the places of greatest need. A team serving in Fallujah barely escaped harm when a coalition airstrike hit (Preemptive Love Coalition).
Prayercast reminds us, “Despite these gruesome realities, ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but…against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12). This is a spiritual battle against our adversary, the devil, who ‘prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8).
“We hate the darkness and underlying evil, and we grieve the resulting bloodshed and pain. Yet Jesus still says, ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44). God’s love reaches not only those suffering under this oppression, but it reaches even into the ranks of Islamic State. Just as God transformed Saul into Paul through an encounter with Jesus, so can he transform today’s persecutors into tomorrow’s evangelists. And he is doing just that.”
Pray for the Islamic State using Prayercast’s short, powerful video (contains graphic images). See also In Harm’s Way: Reflections on Missionaries and Risk (Evangelical Missions Quarterly).
Source: Mission Network News, July 4, 2016
We’re about a month away now from the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and ten refugee athletes will be participating in the newly formed Refugee Olympic Team.
The athletes will compete in swimming, track, and judo. Their countries of origin include Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their team represents to refugees worldwide that although they don’t have a country, they still have a voice.
Open Doors USA’s Emily Fuentes says it also puts faces to the refugee crisis. “I think representation truly does matter in situations like this and brings attention to this unprecedented refugee crisis that we’re having in our world right now. It’s not just Syria, it’s not just Iraq, but it’s several other countries where there’s violence against people of different faiths, of different backgrounds.”
» See also Fran Pratt’s litany for refugees.
Source: Mission Network News, June 30, 2016
“Preaching to the choir” is an idiom which means you are trying to make believers out of people who already believe, or convince people who are already convinced. When the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, approved a package of anti-terror bills this week, that is what could become the reality for gospel work in Russia.
Slavic Gospel Association’s Joel Griffith says, “From what we’re able to understand from all the sources, if the bill is signed and it stands as is without change, it looks like missionary activity would be off-limits to anybody but representatives of the registered organizations or groups, or individuals who have entered into formal agreements with such bodies.”
Plus, the new anti-terror legislation cracks down on anything that is interpreted as a violation of public security and order—extremist actions, coercion into ruining families, and encroachments on the freedom of the person and the rights and freedoms of citizens.
One way that could be read, explains Griffith, is “they’re saying every missionary has to carry documents with specific information proving their connection to a registered religious group, and it looks like they’re wanting to try to ban any missionary activity in residential areas except for certain things like prayer services or ceremonies.”
» See additional coverage from Forum18 News Service, which specializes in coverage of religious freedom issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia, and Belarus.
Source: GodReports, June 23, 2016
The Nepal earthquake in 2015 killed over 8,000 people and was the worst natural disaster to strike that country since 1934. Hundreds of thousands were left homeless—with entire villages flattened—which prompted many Christian organization to respond with humanitarian aid.A prominent Buddhist monk observed carefully as Christians helped rebuild his community last year after the massive temblor reduced his neighborhood to rubble.
“After watching us for seven days, he said, ‘I’m going to give my life to Jesus,’” a ministry director for Christian Aid Mission reported.
Before the earthquake, the Buddhist leader had never allowed homegrown missionaries to preach in his area. But he was disheartened when he observed that none of his monastery colleagues assisted with aid or rebuilding following the earthquake.
“Where are the 330 million gods of Hinduism? Where are the Buddhists?” the monk asked.
The monk placed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ, along with his family and many others, and became the leader of a church.
» Read full story and another from GodReports, High Priest of Santeria Caught a Vision of Hell, until Jesus Freed Him from the Curse.
Source: United Bible Societies, May 23, 2016
Tot Nhernh, 93, vividly remembers the panic he and his family felt as the bombs started falling on their village in northeast Cambodia. It was the 1970s and the Vietnam war was spilling into the region as members of the Viet Cong crossed the border to hide.
With their village totally destroyed and desperate to escape the continued US bombing in their region, Nhernh and his family, along with many others, crossed the border into Vietnam. Not only were they traumatized by the destruction they had witnessed, they were also deeply worried that in their haste to leave they hadn’t had time to make offerings to appease the spirits.
But then some Vietnamese people began to visit these desperate refugees. They offered them help and friendship, and also shared some good news: God loved them and had released them from all bondage through his son, Jesus. Nhernh recalls how he felt all his fear falling away, replaced by a peace and freedom he had never experienced. He was among several Bunong refugees to become Christians, learning much about their new faith during their time in exile.
When the war ended, he could not wait to return home and share the gospel. He and the other new Bunong Christians planted small churches in Bunong villages, and also evangelized other hill tribes, including the Krung and Tampuan.
This May, around 50 years after the first attempt to translate the Scriptures into Bunong was stopped by war, the Bunong people of Cambodia and Vietnam finally receive[d] the very first New Testament in their language.
In This Issue: Prayerwalking your neighborhood
- PRAYER GUIDE: 30 Days of Praying through the Neighborhood
- CURRICULUM: Exile Night
- BOOK: Serving God in a Migrant Crisis
- BOOKS: Compassion, Transitions, and a Story of Answered Prayer
- EVENTS: Upcoming Conferences, Courses, and More
Source: Voice of the Martyrs
Exile Night is an opportunity for churches, youth groups, and student groups to identify with their persecuted family members in a tangible way, experiencing a small piece of what displaced believers face every day. Participants will eat what they eat, sleep how they sleep, and be inspired that faith in Christ is what matters—even when it costs everything.
Exile Night is an overnight event that can be done indoors or outdoors. Whether inside or outside, the goal of Exile Night is for attendees to gain an understanding of what Christian refugees experience, to be encouraged by their faith in Christ, and to stand with their persecuted family in a practical way.
» Learn more or get suggestions and materials, most of them free.
» See also Voice of the Martyrs’ review of an interesting new book, They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East, by Mindy Belz.
Source: Nav Neighbors
In a recent letter home, some friends serving in the Muslim world not only invited readers to pray for Muslim friends and Muslims around the planet (as we do each time Ramadan rolls around) but also offered a helpful 30-day prayerwalking guide we can use as we seek to be Christ’s ambassadors close to home, no matter who our neighbors are.
Prayerwalking, as my friends wrote, is a great way “to pray and engage with the community where God has placed you and to gain a sense for why he might have you just where you are (see Acts 17:26-27).”
» Download Thirty Days of Praying through the Neighborhood (four-page PDF). You might also want to learn more about the folks who put it together, the Nav Neighbors ministry.
Source: GMI Books
Serving God in a Migrant Crisis: Ministry to People on the Move, by Patrick Johnstone with Dean Merrill. GMI Books, 2016. 121 pages.
“Our world is full of war, poverty, terrorism, corruption, failed states, and ecological disasters, all of which uproot people and send them searching for a better life,” write Johnstone and Merrill. “I have news for you. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
This brief but informative and compelling book puts today’s migrant crisis in perspective, describing its causes, effects, complexities, and implications for the global church. Each chapter concludes with thoughtful questions for readers to ask themselves. Several chapters explore what individuals, local churches, Christian agencies, and the global body of Christ can do.
Both readable and well-documented, this book also surveys relevant biblical passages and principles. It does a good job steering clear of preaching or self-righteousness. It also points to helpful resources. Though more could be said about any of the topics covered, sometimes brevity is best. This book feels balanced and up to date. It might make a good study for your small group.
Note that this is second in a series of books by Johnstone and Merrill on challenges facing the global church. The first is Serving God in Today’s Cities: Facing the Challenge of Urbanization.
» Learn more or buy the book from Amazon (or elsewhere); US$9.99 for the Kindle edition, US$14.99 for the paperback.
» See also two other recent publication from GMI Books designed to inform decisions and communication efforts: Our Anchor in a World Adrift: 7 Stats You Need to Know to Serve the King and Missiographics 2.0: Visualizing the Great Commission.
We don’t have time or space to write at length about all the new books suggested (and sometimes sent to us) for resource reviews, but here are glimpses of a few recent reads you might want to check out:
Compassion and the Mission of God, by Ruben Das. The author, a professor on several seminary faculties, traces God’s compassion as revealed in the Old and New Testament and as understood and expressed by the early church. It provides a biblical and theological foundation for ministries of social justice, relief, development, and compassion.
Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service, by Amy Young. A respected authority on missionary care calls this self-published book a “must-read” guide and says, “Give one to every missionary you know!” I found the quality a bit uneven, but it does address an important gap with much wisdom and stories of personal experience.
The Prayers of Many: The Story of a Church on Mission, by D.G. Wynn. The author demonstrates how God answered the concerted prayers of those in one Colorado church (and others) and worked through their missionaries and partners to see his kingdom established in a remote (but unnamed) Muslim context.
July 3-13, Refresh! (Grenoble, France). Retreat for cross-cultural workers. Provided by Heartstream Resources.
July 3-22, Manarah (Detroit, MI, USA). Muslim evangelism training provided by Christar.
July 4 to November 6, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Course (online). Provided by the Perspectives Study Program.
July 10-15, ABIDE (Joplin, MO, USA). Re-entry and debriefing for singles, couples, and families provided by TRAIN International.
July 11-22, Engaging Islam (Boulder, CO, USA). Evangelism and discipleship training course provided by Horizons International (two one-week intensives).
July 12, Special Episode: Is It Time to Rethink the Native Missionary Model? (online). Free, web-based, interactive conversation from The Mission Table.
July 12-15, Thrive Retreat (Beaver Creek, CO, USA). For North American women serving cross-culturally.
July 16, Global Prayer Journey (various locations). Walk, run, and cycle through the world’s forgotten neighborhoods and pray; also a fundraiser. Organized by MoveIn.
July 16-18, Perspectives National Gathering (Timonium, MD, USA).
July 16-22, ReBoot Reentry Program (Kitchener, ON, Canada). For returning missionary kids, ages 17-20, transitioning to life in Canada.
July 20-22, Refugee Highway Partnership North American Roundtable (Toronto, ON, Canada).
July 23-30, New Wilmington Mission Conference (Western Pennsylvania, USA). Annual, week-long multi-generational mission conference; a tradition for more than 100 years.
August 1 to December 4, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Course (online). Provided by the Perspectives Study Program. (Another class starts August 15.)
August 6-12, ReBoot Reentry Program (Calgary, AB, Canada). For returning missionary kids, ages 17-20, transitioning to life in Canada.
August 27, Bridges Seminar (Oklahoma City, OK, USA). Building bridges to reach Muslims. Provided by Crescent Project.
August 29-30, Support Raising Bootcamp (Rogers, AR, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.
- NIGERIA: Interviews in an IDP Camp
- BANGLADESH: A Faith that Makes the List
- BUDDHIST WORLD: A Spiritual Movement
- PAKISTAN: “You Reconnected Us with the Lord”
I’m wrapping up my work on this batch of news briefs on June 20, which the UNHCR has declared World Refugee Day. Today the world has more than 60 million displaced people, a number we have not seen since World War II.
Many churches and Christian groups are taking time to focus on prayer, awareness, and responding to the crisis by observing World Refugee Sunday June 19 or June 26, but how about making it World Refugee Week?
You may need to first introduce your group to Refugee Realities: Common Myths and Assumptions, a six-minute video put out by the International Association for Refugees. For mature audiences, see a powerful four-minute video created for World Refugee Sunday by We Welcome Refugees or a Pulitzer-prize winning collection of moving photos about the refugee crisis.
Several of the stories below put a human face on the situation and may stir you to pray.
Overwhelmed? I also offer you this inspirational six-minute video, The Man Who Broke the Mountain Alone. It came to me via Joel News and tells the story of Dashrath Manjhi worked for 22 years to carve a path through a mountain for his poor Indian village.