In This Issue: Glory Fleeting or Enduring
BRAZIL: The Olympic Dream and the Human Race
BRAZIL: Olympics Offer Rare Ministry Opportunity
ERITREA: Moving Testimony of a Refugee
BANGLADESH/WORLD: A New Bible for Muslims
KENYA: Why Are Churches and Mosques Being Painted Yellow?
Image: Lausanne Movement. This month more than a thousand younger leaders and mentors from more than 140 countries gathered in Jakarta to meet and collaborate for global mission. About two thirds of the participants were from the Majority World, and about one third were women. Learn more or watch the summary video.
Three global gatherings happened recently. The first, on July 23, was the global simulcast of an electronic music festival and may be cause for great concern. The second was Lausanne Movement’s Young Leaders Gathering in Jakarta, Indonesia, and that one fuels great hope. The third, still going on, is the Olympic Games in Rio. The Olympics inspire dreams of glory!
When sleuthing for news brief material, I could not find much unrelated to the Games. Many articles told stories of sportsmanship at its best. I’m also curious to see the remake of Ben Hur, with its tales of sportsmanship at its worst. That will be in theaters in the US this weekend; read this interview with the producer.
I’ve been watching some of the Olympics by catching whatever is on when I take a break from work. I read about Lopez Lomong, a former Lost Boy of Sudan who became an Olympian. I found a piece about how Saudi women are “changing the game.” I also came across Usain Bolt vs. 100 Years of Olympic Sprinters, in which the authors concluded that repeat performances are rare and glory is fleeting.
Looking for enduring glory? Find clues in John 17.
The Olympics… an amazing opportunity to engage the entire globe in a powerful way. Few other global events have the same impact. Are you looking at the Olympics as a lens on the human race?
Dear God, as athletes compete and as citizens from every country cheer for their nation’s finest, will you show yourself to them in a powerful way? Be present in this truly global event and give us new insights into your Kingdom as we participate. May these games see many athletes come to know you and many more spectators get a glimpse of your grace.
Source: Mission Network News, August 10, 2016
And in the midst of this athletic competition that gathers people from around the globe is a unique evangelism opportunity that only comes once every other year—one that Athletes in Action is fully engaged in.
Tim Pitcher is at the Rio Olympics right now with Athletes in Action. The Athletes in Action team has around 100 diverse and multilingual staff members engaging athletes and families and being a spiritual encouragement.
“They’re here to be able to minister to the athletes from their country or their language group and really try through some initiative evangelism to be able to meet with them, resource them, so if they go back home, they’re going to have copies of God’s Word that they can get through security and customs that a normal missionary might not,” shares Pitcher.
“[When] Rio finishes and they all start going home, the gospel seeds will be spread on all the various lives as they’re going home to their final destinations. It’s a very strategic opportunity to equip and spread the gospel.”
» You may also be interested in a Brigada Today article which suggests the Olympics are a great time to help others catch a global vision.
Source: Jubilee Campaign, July 31, 2016
“Very recently I had a trying time in my life,” [explained Hanna Petros Solomon in a June 22 presentation]. “No, I didn’t have to dodge bullets to cross another border, I had to write my transfer essay to university. In order to understand who you are as a person, universities ask you to describe the journey that brought you to them. I wrote what I thought was an excellent essay about why I came to America, and handed it to my professor who was helping me with the process. He told me that the essay spoke more about my country and the state of dictatorship than it did my own experiences, it had to be personal.
“In an effort to apply his advice, I changed every ‘we’ pronoun to ‘I,’ and suddenly the words on paper became too personal, painful even.”
» Read Hanna Petros Solomon’s story to learn more about the situation in Eritrea and how it has affected lives, or watch this recording of her testimony. Another version (a bit more polished) is from 2015.
Source: Compassion Radio, August 8, 2016
How do you reach Muslims for Christ? With the gospel, right? And where do we find that? In the Word of God, of course. But which Bible is the right Bible for the task? Now that’s a more complicated question, and not so easily answered
Norm’s guest knows a thing or two about reaching people for Christ in the world’s hotspots. He’s about as intrepid as they come and can hold his own in any discussion on the Great Commission. We’re glad to welcome back our old friend, Dr. Viggo Olsen.
» Listen to the 26-minute interview on the topic of contextualization and several other episodes with Dr. Olsen aired/posted in August.
See also Legendary Missionary Doctor Works on Muslim-friendly English Translation of New Testament (GodReports, 2012).
Source: Christian Today, August 16, 2016
Churches and mosques in Nairobi are being painted a vibrant shade of yellow to demonstrate a “shared humanity” and highlight that there is more that unites people of different faiths than divides them.
The Colour in Faith initiative was launched in 2015 by Colombian-American artist Yazmany Arboleda, who wanted to find a way to cross “language, religion, ethnicity, and politics,” which so often cause sectarian divides.
“The goal was to take houses of worship in Kenya and paint them yellow in the name of love,” he told The Guardian. “The idea from the beginning was to turn buildings into sculptures that speak to our shared humanity.”
So far more than 20 houses of worship have signed up, and three have already been painted—a mosque, a church, and a Hindu temple.
Arboleda says the act of painting the buildings has brought different communities together. “To see people smile and talk to each other is beautiful.”
» See full story with pictures.
By Shane Bennett
Editor’s note: 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 into your hands.
You’ve seen the reports: Kids graduate from high school, bail out of the church, and don’t come back. We can stand idly by (but for the occasional whining) or we can try to do something. My friend Tony Sheng is doing something. Tony heads up an intensive mentoring effort with high school students called The Ember Cast. I know it works because I just returned from spending a week with them Sicily and facilitating their connection with Muslim migrants and refugees there.
These kids rocked. They would talk to anyone about Jesus. They walked miles in the Mediterranean sun. And they never complained!
Tony is doing a great job with the kids he’s discipling. They finish high school with a deep love for Jesus and the nations and a sense that they’re made to make a difference. If you’d like that for some kids you know, get in touch with Tony. The Ember Cast has a story to share. I’d love to see their catalytic effort multiplied across the US and beyond.II. Three Ways Your Church Can Focus
I love it when a church dials in on a particular vision or calling for the nations. Some of the most invigorating conversations of my life have been with churches looking to make a difference and kind enough to invite me to the chat. If your church, or one you love, is looking for a focus or a fresh blossoming of global involvement, can I recommend three friends?
- Mike Bell is the USA National Director for Hungry For Life. Mike helps churches begin multi-year partnerships with vetted mission situations throughout the world. These partnerships build a 3-5 year plan to carry out community-designed relief and development projects. After helping a church choose a partner, Hungry For Life handles all the logistics for teams and manages ongoing projects at no cost to the church. Watch this video for a snapshot of how it works. If your church has a vision for justice, for eliminating needless suffering, and you’re looking for a direction, get in touch with Mike.
- If your church wants to make a difference in the world, but you’re not really even sure how to start scheming and dreaming, connect with Matthew Ellison of Sixteen:Fifteen. Matthew’s coaching will help your church discover its unique vision for the nations. He’ll then guide you through designing a strategic plan and then deploying the resources and people to execute the plan.
- If your church knows its vision, and if that vision looks like big-time love and commitment to Muslim peoples, let me invite you to link arms with my tribe. Frontiers is seeing more and more churches jump on board with an idea that’s intrigued us for years: church-based teams to unengaged Muslim peoples. This approach combines the God-given vision of a local church with the field experience of Frontiers to see God’s kingdom flourish where it’s not right now. Churches stay in the driver’s seat. Frontiers provides some road maps and a “heads up” for hazards in the road. If you’d like to see your church consider sending a team, shoot me an email. I’ll introduce to the right guys.
Grandmas, are you listening to me? This, the last of the summer triple shots, is for you: The globe is facing the single greatest refugee crisis ever, and you might just be the answer. Before you get all humble, hear me out.
A hefty percentage of the refugee population are young people without their parents. Their moms are dead or a world away. They are in over their heads with “nobody told me it would be like this.” Evil people are taking advantage of them. And as tough as they want to look, a kind gaze or a maternal hug would sure be nice right about now.
I saw this happen a few months ago. The refugee was a friend from Liberia in his early twenties. The woman who brought the Granny Factor was Kenyan. She looked across the table and right into the young man’s soul. She ministered the kingdom of God to him with wisdom and kindness. I was honored just to sit there and watch it happen.
I saw it again a few weeks ago. This friend was a twenty-something Gambian. The Granny Factor oozed from a saint from Louisville, Kentucky. She looked at him and asked, “Tell me your story. I love to hear people’s stories.” He proceeded to trust her with the pain of betrayal, beatings, and a journey he shouldn’t have survived. She absorbed just a bit of the pain. And again, the kingdom of God was manifest.
You can imagine this, can’t you? Maybe you’ve experienced it. It’s your superpower! Too many of us think you don’t count any longer and maybe you’ve come to agree with that. Simply not true. If you’re tired and need to rest, that’s cool. If you have too many babies to hold and teenagers to scold in your own family right now, no worries. But if you’ve got some love to go around, I’m here to invite you to unleash your Granny Factor on five, fifty, or a thousand refugees, in your own country, someplace like Sicily, or beyond. You will make a difference.
Image: 1871 proof three-cent nickel piece, Wikimedia Commons
In this issue: The highest guru
- INDIA: Celebrating Christ as the Highest Guru
- NEPAL: Witch Doctor Refers Man to Church Planter
- INDONESIA: Younger Leaders Unite
- WEST AFRICA: Slave Wives of the Gods
- IRAN: Azeri Christians Arrested
Recently, while hanging out with coworkers where I tutor, I felt like the foreigner who never fits in. Yes, they spoke English, but I didn’t understand the way they used the words. Their subculture may have begun in 1996, but the recently launched smartphone app has helped it take off and is even helping people fall in love with their own cities. One Texas seminary used it to hold a two-hour party that attracted 200 people, six of whom came to Christ. It’s not just an American thing, either; people are over the world are joining in. Our friend Stephen Davies, former missionary to Burkina Faso but now in London, is hooked. Have you guessed what I’m talking about?
This and the stories below got me thinking about the gospel, church, and culture. The Church and Culture blog reports on a study of America’s four Gods and another on religious literacy (take the test). American or not, how well do you know your own culture and its subcultures? Do you tend to assume we have the same values, or speak the same language?
With any culture, we are also challenged to ask what can (or should) be used as a bridge for the gospel, and what can’t or shouldn’t? Missiologists differ on the answers. Is it contextualization, or is it syncretism?
Writing from the North Country (which has a culture of its own),
Source: Global Worship, July 20, 2016
Image: Christ the Guru. Oil painting by M.P. Manoj, based on the original drawing by Joy Elamkunnapuzha, Christian Musicological Society of India.
A friend in India writes:
Happy Guru Purnima! [annual day in India and Nepal to honor your guru and focus on their teachings]. Prabhu Yeshu ji mere sadguru he! (Lord Jesus is my sadguru, true/highest teacher).
This day (from one night to the next night) is a day when millions of people in India and Nepal (and some in the diaspora) will be focusing on better learning and following the teachings of their gurus (guru = one who dispels darkness, and can be used for a secular teacher, and especially for religious and musical teachers). Many shishya (devotees/disciples/students) will wake up at 4am to begin, meditating on his teachings in the early morning, worshiping him throughout the day, and studying his teachings throughout the day. Many will be fasting as they study their guru’s teachings throughout the day. Many will meet together with other devotees, and talk with others about his teachings, or sing songs of devotion to him.
» Read full story, with worship honoring Christ as highest guru. If this is your cup of chai (or that of those you hope to reach), check out the Yeshu Bhajan Digital Songbook (praise songs to Jesus in Hindi).
Source: Empart, June 2016
Every day [Mannba’s family] faced problems. Life was difficult for them. Evil spirits used to torment the family. There was always sickness in the family. The family went to the village doctors many times but could not get any healing. They then approached the witch doctors, one after the other, but still there was no relief. There was no peace in the family. In frustration, Mannba returned to the witch doctor and asked what he and his family should do to receive deliverance from their torment.
Mannba was astonished when the witch doctor admitted defeat and told him to find a church planter and let him pray, and then there would be deliverance.
…Neighbors saw change in the family and opposed them, saying, “Why do you serve another god?” Still the family continued to serve the Lord Jesus and grew strong in their faith. Mannba’s father went to India and worked hard to earn money. He earned four lakh and built a beautiful house. The villagers were jealous and claimed that he was possessed by an evil spirit.
» To better understand these dynamics, read full story.
» See also a video about God’s power at work in Bible translation in Nepal (Wycliffe), well worth 39 minutes of your time, and Traditional Healers and Modern Medicine in Madagascar (Al Jazeera), a unique look into the life of another “traditional healer” and what he claims he can and cannot do.
Source: Lausanne Movement, July 2016
The 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG2016) will be held August 3-10 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Occurring once a generation, this is the third such gathering that the Lausanne Movement has convened. Previous gatherings held were in Singapore in 1987 and Malaysia in 2006 which mobilized and connected emerging evangelical influencers for global mission. They also led to many lifelong friendships and ministry partnerships.
YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for his global mission.
The Lausanne Movement is eager to connect evangelical influencers across all generations to work together towards the vision of the gospel for every person, an evangelical church for every people, Christ-like leaders for every church, and kingdom impact in every sphere of society.
Source: Women Without Borders, July 20, 2016
Thousands of West African girls as young as four years old are still being offered to the gods, as atonement for some offense committed by a relative. Trokosi, which literally means “slave wives of the gods,” are part of a 300-year tradition in the Upper Volta region that encompasses Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. Until the 18th century, fetish priests accepted livestock as offerings by families who were fearful of retribution by the gods. But then the priests decided a young virgin would be more useful for domestic and sexual purposes.
A slave’s term of service is supposed to last from three to five years, depending on the nature of the sin that is being atoned for. However, most families of trokosi cannot afford the very high redemption price required to buy their daughters back. They also live in real fear of the gods’ displeasure. If a priest dies, the woman becomes the property of his successor. But if the girl dies without her family redeeming her, they must replace her with another virgin. They must also replace her if she runs away. The cycle can continue for generations.
Through the efforts of non-government organizations many shrines have now stopped the practice of trokosi and over 3,000 women have been freed and rehabilitated. In 1998 Ghana passed a law banning the practice. However, thousands of girls still remain in slavery—some some estimate up to 35,000 in the four countries.
» See also Afghanistan: Sold for a Herd of Cows (Institute for War and Peace Reporting).
Source: Mohabat News, July 18, 2016
Iranian Intelligence Police arrested three Christians from Baku, Azerbaijan, during their visit to a house church in Tehran. During their attack, they arrested one of the Iranian members of the house church as well.
Reports obtained by Mohabat News indicate that three Azeri Christians were arrested on June 24, 2016, during their visit to Tehran, Iran’s capital. These believers entered Iran as tourists to visit their fellow Christian brothers and sisters. The Iranian Intelligence Police raided a residential house in the outskirts of Tehran where they were visiting and arrested them all, along with one of the Iranian believers. They were immediately transferred to an unknown location.
Initial reports indicate that the three Azeri Christians arrested are members of “Word of Life” church in Baku, Azerbaijan, who had been invited to Tehran by a group of Iranian believers to visit their house church.
The wives of these Azeri Christian men have not been able to contact them since their arrest. Only one of the three men has been allowed to make two very short phone calls to his wife in Azerbaijan, during which he said, “All three of us are in good health and are held together in one place.”
» You might also read The Story of Iran’s Church in Two Sentences (The Gospel Coalition) and another story from Mohabat news about the Catholic priest recently killed by ISIS militants and the French Muslims who attended his funeral mass to show solidarity. Both are inspiring.
In this issue:
- VIDEO: Peace in the Midst of Chaos
- BOOK: Far from Cold
- ARTICLE: Take Time to Refresh Your Missions Team
- BOOK: Seeking Refuge
- EVENTS: Upcoming Conferences, Courses, and More
Does it seem as if every edition of Missions Catalyst goes out to a world characterized by more trouble than it was the week before? That’s probably an illusion! This week, though, we’re highlighting resources designed to speak peace and help us find purpose in the midst of chaos, and remember the words of Jesus from John 14:27:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Source: Moving Works
Though the world is by plagued by suffering due to the realities of sin, death, and evil, God is calling us to seek refuge in the only place it can truly be found. Be Still, a short video based on Psalm 46 from Moving Works, can spark discovery of God’s presence and purposes. Could you use it in your church, class, or group? The related discussion guide may help.
Other new short, inspirational films from Moving Works which you might be able to use include The Mustard Seed, about the nature of the kingdom of God, and Death Where Is Your Sting?, the testimony of a Buddhist woman who came to Christ.
Far from Cold, by Gillian Newham. Peregrini Press, 2016. 208 pages.
This memoir tells the story of Mark and Gillian’s journey from Britain to Mongolia where they were part of the amazing early decades of the modern Mongolian church. The first-generation Mongolian believers and churches the Newhams serve among frequently struggle greatly and sometimes fall away or fall apart before coming back and moving from early enthusiasm to seasoned faith and maturity. This book illustrates what many frontier church planters experience: a ministry that can be amazingly rewarding but also humbling and frustrating: two steps forward, then three steps back.
Note that this book comes from the new, small publishing group that brought us Forged on the Field, Letters from Global Mission Leaders. Expected to be first in “a series of books sharing authentic stories of honest Christian pilgrims,” this one is well worth reading, especially if you have a heart for this part of the world about which relatively little has been written.
» Learn more or purchase this book from Amazon (or elsewhere) for US$9.99 (Kindle edition) or US$16.99 (paperback).
Source: Catalyst Services
Serve in church leadership or on a church mission team or committee? Check out the latest edition of Postings. This one’s for you.
“Summer may be a busy time for your church missions leadership team. But summer is also a crucial time to refresh your team for the coming year. Here are 12 ideas to reenergize the hearts and minds of your leaders.”
Source: World Relief and Moody Publishers
Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis, by Stephan Bauman et al. Moody Publishers, 2016, 224 pages.
“We can’t ignore the refugee crisis… but how do we even begin to respond to something so massive and complex?” Here three World Relief leaders draw from their own experience and extensive research to lay a foundation for understanding, answer key questions American Christians have, and describe ways to respond to refugees coming to America.
Though parts of this book feel like an infomercial for World Relief, the agency does offer a great deal of experience and many helpful resources to those with whom they partner. Visit their website for information about forming a “Good Neighbor Team” at your local church to welcome and walk alongside a newly arrived refugee family in your community, put together welcome kits, and more. You can also download a free Church Leader’s Tool Kit on the Syrian Refugee Crisis.
» Learn more or purchase this book from Amazon (or elsewhere) for US$7.90 (Kindle) or US$8.92 (paperback).
» Readers might also be interested in another short, practical book which covers some of the same ground, Jessica Udall’s Loving the Stranger: Welcoming Immigrants in the Name of Jesus.
Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar
August 1-5, Kairos Course (Louisville, KY, USA). Other classes with varying durations and locations also listed on the Kairos website.
August 1 to December 4, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Course (online). Provided by the Perspectives Study Program. (Another online class starts August 15.)
August 5-6, Without Borders (Hawthorne, NJ, USA). A conference for Christian women (on reaching out to Muslim women), provided by Crescent Project.
August 6-12, ReBoot Reentry Program (Calgary, AB, Canada). Annual event for returning missionary kids, ages 17-20, transitioning to life in Canada.
August 17, Releasing Radical Missions Generosity (online). Free webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.
August 17-19, Crisis Management Seminar (Plano, TX, USA). Provided by Crisis Consulting International.
August 18, Trends and Needs in Mission Training (online). Webinar provided by Missio Nexus.
August 25, Home Office Morale Busters (online). Webinar provided by Missio Nexus.
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.
September 1, Ministry Evaluation Toolbox (online). Webinar provided by Missio Nexus.
September 12 to December 11, Encountering the World of Islam (online). Course on embracing Muslims with the love of Christ.
September 14, Missionary Debriefing, an Essential and Valuable Gift (online). Free webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.
September 14-15, Support Raising Bootcamp (Lombard, IL, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.
September 14-20, Traction Conference for Men (Wilderswil, Switzerland). Provided by Catalyst International.
September 16-18, BAM Conference (Los Angeles, CA, USA). An event for anyone interested in business as mission; provided by the BAM Resource Team.
September 29 to October 1, Mission Leaders Conference (Louisville, KY, USA). Provided by Missio Nexus. Pre-conference workshops on various topics also planned.
September 30 to October 1, Entrepreneurial Readiness Workshop (Colorado Springs, CO, USA). Sponsored by The Navigators Global Enterprise Network.
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!