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IRAQ: The Peacemaking Barbers of Baghdad

Source: Preemptive Love Coalition, March 30, 2018

These barbers in Baghdad decided their scissors and clippers were perfect peacemaking tools. Most of the barbers are Muslim, but they live close to a refugee camp for Iraqi Christians. The families who live in this camp were displaced by ISIS and many of them suffered tremendously under the extremist group, which brutally targeted religious minorities.

They are low on resources, so spending money on haircuts just isn’t possible for many of them.

Seeing an opportunity to build a bridge between often estranged communities, these barbers decided to take a step toward their Christian neighbors and help them out. Once a month, they show up at the camp and give free haircuts to whoever needs one. They chat, laugh, build relationships, and through that process, they help these families heal.

Each snip of their scissors and buzz from their clippers tells these Christian families that they are welcome and wanted in Iraq. That their Muslim neighbors are for them and want them to thrive.

If these barbers in Baghdad can figure out how to make peace with their clippers and scissors, surely the rest of us can figure out how to make peace with what we’ve got.

» Read full story and other articles in the Peacemaking Fridays series.

» Here’s an interesting video/story about reaching out to refugees in America: From War to Montana (Starbucks).

TURKEY: Churches Come Together to Publish Landmark Book

Source: World Watch Monitor, March 28, 2018

A joint commission of Turkey’s major Christian denominations has published a historic book of concise Christian doctrine, receiving the unprecedented endorsement of all the nation’s Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Syriac, and Protestant Churches.

According to Armenian Bishop Sahak Masalyan, keynote speaker at the formal book launch in Istanbul of the English edition on February 3, the “most spectacular aspect” of the book is in fact its first page of endorsements, which he declared “akin to a miracle.” “[This book] expresses the shared beliefs of the Churches in Turkey. We approve its publication and recommend that it be widely read,” the statement says.

Undersigned are the ecclesiastical leaders of all mainstream branches of the Christian faith in Turkey: the Orthodox Patriarch, Armenian Archbishop, Syriac Metropolitan, Chairman of the Catholic Bishops, and the church leader chairing the Association of Protestant Churches.

“For Churches that have ostracized each other for centuries, leaving a legacy of deep divisions and resentments,” the back cover explains, “to sign their names to such a work is no small step toward Christian unity.”

» Read full story.

» Related to Orthodox theology and missions check out Orthodox Theology for India (Marge Network).

INDIA: Worship Halted by Hindu Mob

Source: World Watch Monitor, March 29, 2018

Like every month, Pastor Jose Prakash sent invitations for the prayer and fasting to be conducted at Fatehpur Central prayer hall. “At least 550 people accepted the invitation and joined in worship and the Bible-study sessions that followed,” he said.

Around 20 Hindu extremists in saffron-colored clothes barged inside a church in eastern India’s Uttar Pradesh state [March 28], violently assaulting the pastor and two church members.

“On the insistence of brother pastors, I had submitted a complaint letter at the local police station just to inform the police about the incident, but after coming back home yesterday night, I went on my knees in prayer and the Holy Spirit prompted me that I should not register a case against the 20 young men.

“I reasoned it with God, and I see two reasons—one that they are ignorant, and have no knowledge of what they have done; two, that they do not know the Lord, and his works. They are just young men in their twenties, who were instigated to take up violence.

“I urged the church and brethren pastors, if it pains them, please cry out to the Lord for the salvation of the 20 men.”

» Read full story.

» Also read Hindus are Tired of Being Born Again (International Mission Board) and Resurrection vs. Raising (short piece by Justin Long).

ETHIOPIA: Ready to Die for the Sake of the Gospel

Source: God Reports, March 30, 2018

Erik Laursen, founder of New Covenant Missions recently traveled to Ethiopia, where he met with a pastor who has been targeting an Islamic city of 30,000 people that had no Christian churches and is considered the khat-dealing hub of Africa. Khat is a plant native to the Horn of Africa that contains an amphetamine-like stimulant. Chewing the leaves of the plant is a custom going back thousands of years.

When they first started doing evangelism campaigns they would go early in the mornings before people were high on khat or drunk on the local alcohol, the pastor told Laursen. Since then, they planted the only church in the area, and have been holding two services every week. Ten new believers will be baptized soon.

“What is your vision for this area?” Laursen asked the pastor.

“We have many young adults that are ready to go (spread the Good News), and we are all ready to die for the sake of the gospel!” he said.

» Read full story.

» See also Enemy to Brother, the story of a young man groomed for jihad who came to Jesus (Arab World Media).

KAZAKHSTAN: Court Acquits Christian Sharing Bible App

Source: Barnabas Fund, March 22, 2018

A Christian woman accused of “illegal missionary activity” for demonstrating how to download a Bible smartphone app was acquitted by a regional court in Shymkent, south Kazakhstan, on March 13, 2018.

Sultanova Dilobarkhon met a woman in church in December 2017 who later asked her to rendezvous near a local café so she could show her how to download a Bible app onto her phone. Minutes after Sultanova showed the woman how to download the Bible, she was arrested by police in what appeared to be a deliberate set up.

The court noted that the Bible “is not banned literature in the Republic of Kazakhstan” and found that Sultanova was not guilty of “illegal missionary activity,” as the church attendance of the woman who asked for her assistance to download the Bible had been documented.

» Read full story.

» See also this story from the US: Imam Spends Hours at Museum of the Bible, Says “Every Muslim Should Visit” (The Christian Post).

Winsome ways to share the gospel | Resource Reviews

  1. VIDEO CURRICULUM: Our Gospel Story
  2. DOCUMENTARY: Evidence for the Death of Christ
  3. SIMULATION: How It Feels to Be a Refugee
  4. BOOKS: New and Noteworthy
  5. EVENTS: Upcoming Courses and Conferences

Greetings!

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about books; see brief blurbs below for some new and noteworthy volumes on a variety of topics. We’ve also got some free stuff for you, including an evangelism training course and instructions for a simulation of the refugee experience. Plus there are upcoming conferences and events. Is there something for you in this edition? Have a look.

Blessings,
Marti Wade

VIDEO CURRICULUM: Our Gospel Story

Source: Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College

How many people do you think you’ve shared the gospel message with this year? Twenty? Ten? Five? One? Zero? Research shows that 79% of unchurched people would engage in a faith conversation if their Christian friends asked; however, only 39% of Christians shared how to become a Christian with someone in the past six months.

Our Gospel Story is a free, online collection of related resources meant to move you to show and share the love of Jesus with those around you in winsome and creative ways. It includes an interactive video with evangelism scenarios, training videos, a downloadable curriculum, and other resources. The six-lesson curriculum can be used individually or with groups.

» Learn more or access the materials. Looks like these are very thoughtful and high-quality resources.

» You might also be interested in the Gospel Life Podcast.

DOCUMENTARY: Evidence of the Death of Christ

Source: Ronald Clements, Malcolm Steer, Roger Malstead.

Jesus: Dead and Buried? is a half-hour documentary that looks at the evidence, historical and medical, for the death of Jesus as a real event in history. Join Luke Waldock as he gets expert opinion and travels to Jerusalem to see the places where Jesus himself would have walked during the last few hours of his life.

Though this video can stand alone, it’s third in a series that addresses some of the most common objections or misunderstanding about Christianity in a positive and respectful way. The Jesus Accounts: Fact or Fiction? is focused on the reliability of the Gospels, while Jesus: Son of God? clarifies what Christians mean when we say Jesus is divine. Both are also free online in English and the languages of many of those most likely to struggle with these issues.

» Watch the trailer or order Jesus: Dead and Buried? on DVD. Not posted online yet, but I expect it will be and will let you know.

SIMULATION: How It Feels to Be a Refugee

Source: Women’s Missionary Union, via Loving the Stranger

“Refugee.” The very word evokes strong emotions. These emotions cross the spectrum from pity, doubt, and fear to love, compassion, and benevolence. How does your faith community respond?

Seeking Refuge: A Refugee Simulation is designed to help the American church empathize with refugees by understanding their experiences before they arrived in America. Use with students and/or adults, with suggested adaptations to help you customize the experience for your participants.

» Sign up for this free resource by email. You can learn more from an article at Loving the Stranger, a blog which also includes more great material about welcoming immigrants, etc.

BOOKS: New and Noteworthy

Sources: various

Spirituality and Missions

Sojourner’s Workbook: A Guide to Thriving Cross-Culturally, by Connie Befus. BottomLine Media, 2018. 142 pages; paperback. Does it have to be this hard, or are there ways to make cross-cultural adjustment easier? The author, a skilled counselor, blends psychologically based coping skills with scriptural truth and spiritual disciplines. This book, built around seven goals for a missionary’s first year, might be especially effective in the hands of team and ministry leaders as they equip and encourage new workers.

Spirituality in Missions: Embracing the Lifelong Journey, edited by John Amalraj, Geoffrey W. Hahn, and William D. Taylor. William Carey Library, 2018. 438 pages; ebook or paperback. Authors from 18 countries give us their perspectives on biblical principles and cultural expressions of spirituality particularly as the church engages in God’s mission.

History and Global Christianity

Jerusalem to Timbuktu: A World Tour of the Spread of Christianity, by Brian C. Stiller. IVP Books, 2018. 248 pages; ebook or paperback. What led to the church’s vibrant growth throughout the “Global South”? Brian Stiller of the World Evangelical Alliance draws on extensive research to identify and describe five key factors that have shaped the church, from a renewed openness to the move of the Holy Spirit to the empowerment of indigenous leadership.

Stiller’s book arrived while I was reading two others that cover some of the same ground, both published by academic publishers in 2015:

Scott Sunquist’s The Unexpected Christian Century: The Reversal and Transformation of Global Christianity, 1900-2000 explains how “Christianity moved from being centered in Christian nations to being centered in non-Christian nations” with surprising rapidity and in the process became stronger than ever. Great book.

Douglas Jacobsen’s Global Gospel: An Introduction to Christianity on Five Continents provides a brief history of four Christian traditions and their historical and contemporary expression in Africa, Latin America, Europe, Asia and North America. (Prefer video? See the Global Christianity channel on YouTube for free videos designed to accompany Jacobsen’s book.)

Memoir

Love, Amy: An Accidental Memoir Told in Newsletters from China, by Amy Young. CreateSpace, 2017. 252 pages; ebook or paperback. This book sounds like a fun read, neatly providing three things: an epistolary memoir of one missionary’s experience, a window on life in China, and a tool to help cross-cultural workers write better newsletters to their supporters (with tips and tools at the end of each section).

Evangelism and Apologetics

A Christian Reads the Qur’an, by James Wright. CreateSpace, 2018. 290 pages; ebook or paperback. This unusual book, written primarily for those who revere the Qur’an but also for those who want to share the good news with them, is a conversation between a Muslim and a Christian walking through the pages of the Qur’an and bridging to an understanding of Jesus as revealed in the Gospels.

Education

Finally, here’s one for the homeschooling families. Mission: World Wonders Reading Plan is a curated reading list and curriculum integrating a study of world history, world missions, and world cultures. Quite the package!

EVENTS: Upcoming Conferences and Courses

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

April 5, Honor, Shame, and the Gospel course (online). Six sessions from Mission ONE’s Werner Mischke.

April 6-7, The Journey Deepens (Portland, OR, USA). A weekend retreat for prospective missionaries.

April 8-13, ABIDE (Joplin, MO, USA). Debriefing and reentry help for returning missionaries from TRAIN International.

April 10, OnMission 2018 (online). Free, three-hour streaming conference from Missio Nexus. Theme: partnership.

April 14, Refugee and International Student Ministry Conference (Atlanta, GA, USA). Sponsored by the Foursquare Church.

April 20, Innovation in Mission: Developing a Culture of Innovation (online). Live web event from InChrist Communications.

April 23 to May 6, ORIENT (Joplin, MO, USA). Missionary training from TRAIN International.

April 26-27, Support Raising Bootcamp (Rogers, AR, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

April 26 to May 24, Foundations of Media Strategy (online). Mentored course on using social media for deeper conversations and disciple-making.

April 30 to May 1, Standards Introductory Workshop (Phoenix, AZ, USA). Presented by Standards of Excellence in Short-term Missions.

May 1-3, International Wholistic Missions Conference (Phoenix, AZ, USA). An annual event.

May 4-5, Without Borders Women’s Conference (Sioux Falls, SD, USA). Training for ministering among Muslim women. Provided by Crescent Project.

May 7 to September 9, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online).

May 8 to June 6, Mobiles in Mission: Using the Tool in Everyone’s Pocket (online). Mentored course for field workers on leveraging outreach opportunities.

May 12, GOfest Global (Ware, Hertfordshire, UK). An annual missions conference.

May 15 to June 14, 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World (global). An annual prayer campaign.

May 16-17, Interchange Conference (Wayne, PA, USA). From Catalyst Services, bringing together church and agency mission leaders.

May 20, International Day for the Unreached (global). An annual event.

May 31 to June 2, ACMI Annual Conference (Philadelphia, PA, USA). An annual event from the Association of Christians Ministering to Internationals.

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

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