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WORLD: Over Four Billion Online

Source: Missiologically Thinking, February 1, 2018

I want to draw your attention to Simon Kemp’s recently posted article, Eleven New People Join Social Media Every Second (and Other Impressive Stats). After reading this article, you need to download the “Digital in 2018” presentation—a massive goldmine of helpful charts and data on 230 countries and territories.

  • 3.2 billion people are active social media users
  • Average user spends 6 hours per day on the internet
  • More than 200 million people got their first mobile device in 2017
  • A quarter of a billion people got online for the first time in the last 12 months
  • Saudi Arabia is the fastest growing country when it comes to social media users (with India close behind)

May the Lord give us grace today to see the possibilities… and to act on them.

» Read full story.

» Also read about a new app designed for the scattered Christians of India (Audio Scripture Ministries, via Mission Network News) and How Facebook’s Big Announcement Can Help Missions (World Venture).

Life-changing stats, insights from Africa, voices from Europe | Resource Reviews

Sunrise over an Australian beach. Wherever you are today, we hope you find something you can use in today’s edition of Missions Catalyst.
Photo by Igor Kasalovic on Unsplash.

  1. ARTICLE: Experiencing the Olympics with God in Mind
  2. BOOK: Window on the World
  3. PODCASTS: Voices from Europe
  4. BOOK: African Christian Leadership
  5. EVENT: US-Based Mission Exposure Tours
  6. EVENTS: Upcoming Courses and Conferences

ARTICLE: Experiencing the Olympics with God in Mind

Source: Weave Family

Do you watch the Olympics with your kids? A new article from Weave Family suggests specific ways to not only spark your children’s interest in athletics and friendly competition, but also give your family a bigger picture of God’s world.

» Read the article. For daily devotions, activities, or crafts to do with your children during the Winter Olympics, join the author’s Missional Olympics Facebook group.

BOOK: Window on the World

Window to the World: The Numbers Behind the Need, by Andrew Knight. Independently published, 2018, 45 pages.

“Numbers can change lives and destinies,” claims Andrew Knight, “A statistic can communicate more in an instant than rationale in an hour-long speech or hundreds of pages in a book. I have been told multiple times how stats and numbers have caused people to reflect and then ultimately redirect.”

Window to the World compiles 100 world mission statistics into ten categories (global economics, missionary force, money, urbanization, poverty, refugees, religion, reachedness, etc.) to illustrate needs and opportunities in our world. Each chapter is just two pages: a page of commentary and then a page of 10 striking statistics on that global topic.

This book is self-published and I can’t tell you anything about the author. But everything is footnoted, and many of the numbers are drawn from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity’s status of global Christianity, a document revised annually. That and the author’s commentary could be helpful if you want to use this book as a resource for quick numbers to easily fold into your teaching and mobilization efforts.

» Preview or purchase on Amazon. The Kindle edition is just US$.99, but you can also get it in paperback for US$3.99.

PODCAST: Voices from Europe

Source: Pioneers in Europe

Is listening to podcasts part of your commute, workout, or morning routine? Check out a new podcast featuring conversations with veteran church planters and mission leaders from various sending countries who work among the least reached in Europe.

They’re all with Pioneers (also the agency that sponsors Missions Catalyst), but they do a great job describing what it’s like to serve in their contexts and providing solid, thoughtful advice for anyone considering joining ministries in these places. Each episode is about 20 minutes long.

Episode 1: Martin, a European serving in the UK
Episode 2: Graham, an Australian serving in Italy
Episode 3: Steve, an American serving in France
Episode 4: James, a American serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Episode 5: Lauren, an Australian serving in France
Episode 6: Shane, an Australian serving in Spain

» Listen to the Pioneers in Europe podcast.

» I’ve also been listening to a podcast some of you might enjoy called Taking Route. It’s a bi-weekly podcast for expat women about living abroad, and it’s hilarious! What’s in your earbuds? Let me know (especially if it’s appropriate to feature in Missions Catalyst).

BOOK: African Christian Leadership

Source: African Leadership Study

African Christian Leadership: Realities, Opportunities, and Impact, edited by Robert J. Priest and Kirimi Barine. Orbis Books, 2017. 320 pages.

Wish you had a better understanding of the issues and questions African Christians face as they seek to live out their faith in their cultural context? Wonder how Africans themselves frame these questions and their answers?

Would you like access to actual research that can confirm your own experience or bring new information to your attention that would deepen and broaden your understanding?African Christian Leadership, the result of a multiyear study implemented by African scholars, offers insights on the support and training necessary to promote African Christianity and to foster the healthy development of Africa. Featuring input from over 8,000 African survey participants and dozens of in-depth interviews, it provides invaluable insight and concise analysis of the dynamics of the development of African Christian leaders today.

» Learn more or purchase the Kindle edition for US$15.12. Also available in paperback. Want to dig deeper into the data and analysis? The Africa Leadership Study website includes resources to help you engage further.

EVENT: US-Based Mission Exposure Tours

Source: Global Frontier Missions

Are you a pastor or missions leader looking for ways to help your church catch a vision for global missions or international ministry in your hometown? Looking for an opportunity to give your family or small group a cross-cultural experience that will impact their worldview? Maybe you’re a college student looking for exposure to unreached people groups and cultures without spending a fortune. Check this out.

Every month, Global Frontier Missions offers “Global Missions Journeys,” reasonably priced, thoughtfully designed, weekend experiences in multi-ethnic Clarkston, GA for missions exposure and training. They include mission education, prayer walking, interacting with people from different cultures and religions, and resources you can take home to use in engaging your local church in cross-cultural ministry at home and abroad. GFM adheres to the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission, and that’s always a good sign.

“Global Missions Tours,” scaled down to eight hours, are also available in Atlanta, Houston, and Richmond, and now in Sydney, Australia.

» Learn more. Other opportunities from GFM include internships, missionary training programs, and an online course.

» This and several other mission exposure programs are described in Start Here: First Steps to Ministry with Least-Reached Peoples (Catalyst Services).

EVENTS: Upcoming Conferences and Courses

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

February 1, Five Types of Strategies for Mission Organizations (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

February 2-3, Santa Barbara Mission Conference (Santa Barbara, CA, USA). An annual event.

February 2-4, Missionfest Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

February 2-8, Thrive Retreat (Paphos, Cypress). For North American women serving cross-culturally.

February 5 to June 10, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). This intro-to-missions course follows a four-month format.

February 6-9, Support Raising Leaders Conference (Orlando, FL, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

February 11-23, Second Language Acquisition Course (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.

February 12 to March 10, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Missionary Training International.

February 14-21, Learning Culture through Purposeful Observation (online). Course provided by the Center for Intercultural Training (CIT).

February 14 to March 25, Seek God for the City (global). Annual prayer campaign coordinated by Seek God for the City.

February 15 to March 15, Foundations of Media Strategy (online). Training course from Mission Media U.

February 18-23, ABIDE (Joplin, MO, USA). Debriefing and re-entry help for returning missionaries.

February 21, Mobilizing the Next Generation of Missionaries (online). Free webinar from 16:15 and Cafe 10/40.

February 21-23, International Conference on Turkey (Mesa, AZ, USA). Sponsored by the International Turkey Network.

February 21 to March 21, Story in Ministry (online). Mentored course by Mission Media U on applying elements of story to your outreach.

February 22-23, Standards Introductory Workshop (Portland, OR, USA) presented by Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

February 23-24, Midwest Conference on Missionary Care (Burnsville, MN, USA). An annual event.

February 23-24, Defy the Ordinary (Portland, OR, USA). Conference focusing on short-term missions presented by Short-Term Mission ConneXion and Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

February 23-25, Missions Fest Alberta (Edmonton, AB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

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

News Briefs from the Nations

  1. EGYPT: “Yes, I Am a Christian”
  2. CHINA: New Religious Affairs Regulations Expected Soon
  3. FINLAND: Hundreds of Muslims Coming to Christ
  4. BURKINA FASO: Thousands Call for Doctor’s Release
  5. LAOS: A Church for the So

Greetings,

Open Doors recently released the 2018 edition of their World Watch List. Though it does not change much from year to year, read Good News from the Persecuted Church (Gateway News) for insights on what’s different this year (including some reasons to celebrate). You may also appreciate Ed Stetzer’s thoughtful article, What Persecution Is and Isn’t and How to Respond (Christianity Today).

Today’s edition starts with a story from Open Doors and includes several additional articles related to persecution and religious liberty.

Thanks for praying!

For those in chains,
Pat

The World Watch List is an annual publication that reports on the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. Read more below or see the complete report (Open Doors).

EGYPT: “Yes, I Am a Christian”

Source: Open Doors, January 21, 2018

“Are you Christian?”

The 27-year-old husband and father of five Bassem Herz Attalhah didn’t hesitate to answer.

“Yes, I am Christian,” he told his attackers and then immediately proclaimed his faith a second time in a loud voice: “Yes, I am Christian.”

Bassem was on his way home from work in El-Arish, where he and his brother, Osama, had opened a mobile phone shop. He was with Osama and their neighbor and friend Mohamed when three men stopped them and asked Bassem to show them the wrist of his right hand (Coptic Christians wear a small black tattoo of a cross on their right wrist—a visible reminder and sign of their faith and also a form of identification since many churches station security at their doors to check that those entering are Christians).

When the men saw the tattoo of the cross, they asked Bassem the fatal question. The men then asked Mohamed his name and made him show his wrist. When they saw he had no tattoo, he was allowed to leave. Then they turned to Osama.

“Bassem told them that I had children,” Osama recalls. “They asked me to show them the wrist of my right hand and, when they didn’t see any cross, they thought that I was Muslim.” (The men didn’t see the cross that Osama has tattooed on the top of his hand, hidden by his sleeve.)

“We lost a person dear to our hearts,” Osama said. “My brother Bassem was a very good and kind man. He had a strong relationship with God. He was always reading in the Bible, praying, and going to the church. He was loved by all people.”

When Bassem’s close friend Milad Wasfi heard he had been killed, he couldn’t believe it and called his friend’s phone. His call was answered, but not by his friend.

“The terrorists answered me and said they belong to State of Sinai and promised to kill more Copts before they put down the phone,” he told World Watch Monitor.

» Full story includes a prayer for the Christians of Egypt and says the war on Christianity in Egypt is intensifying. In 2017, 130 Christians were reportedly killed for their faith.

CHINA: New Religious Affairs Regulations Expected Soon

Source: Mission Network News, January 22, 2018

According to Release International, the Chinese government is planning to unveil a new set of regulations on religious affairs next month. These new regulations may give the government more control over state churches and tighten the pressure on unregistered churches.

China also recently grabbed international attention when the Golden Lampstand Church, an evangelical megachurch in the Shanxi Province, was demolished by military police. It was the latest in a string of oppressive movements by local governing officials to restrict and regulate spiritual life.

To be fair, China is a massive country holding one-fifth of the world’s population. So the oppression Christians in China face varies from region to region.

[David Curry, President of Open Doors USA] says a lot of the paranoia when it comes to religion in China can be boiled down to one thing: nationalism. Christianity is viewed by the Chinese government as a Western religion. And in a country steeped heavily in Communist principles, any Western influence is considered a threat.

» Full story provides food for thought about government efforts to harness religion not only in China today but other times and places as well.

» See The Chinese Church Prepares for Missions for insight on challenges and opportunities for Chinese in global ministry (China Source).

» Also related to religious law, you may have heard Bolivia made evangelism a crime. Looks like that decision is being reversed (Christianity Today).

FINLAND: Hundreds of Muslims Coming to Christ

Source: Interserve, January 2018

A report in the Finnish media says that within the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, Muslims are changing allegiance to Christ in numbers estimated to be in the hundreds over recent years. What’s going on?

These people are from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and other Muslim countries. The numbers are sufficient to prompt Lutheran parishes to establish special confirmation classes for Muslim immigrants seeking to follow Jesus.

The report says that about 20 Afghan men are currently attending “pre-confirmation” classes at a parish center in Imatra in Eastern Finland. The teachers use a New Testament in the Dari language (a Persian dialect), which is spoken in Afghanistan.

While some who are seeking to change allegiance said that disillusionment with Islam was the key reason, others said they felt life as a “Christian” would help them fit into Finnish society, according to Sputnik News, which also speculates that there could be an underlying reason to guard themselves against possible deportation.

In Finland 4.1 million of the 5.5 million people are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and a June 2016 Guardian article cited anecdotal data of rising Christian church attendance by Muslims right across the Eurozone.

Take for instance, Trinity church in the Berlin suburb of Steglitz, which saw its congregation grow from 150 to 700 due to people from Muslim families changing faith allegiance to Jesus. The Austrian Catholic Church also saw its applications for adult baptism swell by nearly 70% in the first three months of 2016.

» Full story based on an article published in the Christian Post in July.

» See also these other stories related to global migration: Christian Convert from Iran Converting Muslims in Sweden (Fox News), Four Ways to Meet a Refugee (Faith and Forced Migration), and What Christians in the US Can Learn from Immigrant Pastors (Christianity Today).

BURKINA FASO: Thousands Call for Release of Doctor

Source: World Watch Monitor, January 17, 2018

Thousands took to the streets of Djibo, a northern town in Burkina Faso, on [January 15] to call for the government to secure the release of an Australian doctor, Ken Elliott, kidnapped two years ago. The abduction was claimed by a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Djibo, in the province of Soum, is the town where Dr. Elliott, with his wife, had run a 120-bed clinic for 40 years until their abduction. Jocelyn Elliott was released in February 2016; the Islamist group said in an audio recording that it released Mrs. Elliott so as “not to make women involved in the war.”

The demonstrators claim that the government has not kept its promise to re-open the only medical clinic in the town. An open letter addressed to President Roch Marc Kaboré, read aloud, stated a request that the surgeon’s clinic, the result of a 40-year commitment, be continued.

Dr. Elliott, who is believed to be held outside Burkina Faso, was declared a citizen of the West African nation by an official decree in November 2016.

The couple’s abduction coincided with a jihadist assault on an upmarket hotel in Ouagadougou in January 2016, which left at least 30 people dead, including seven missionaries.

» Full story describes the desparate medical situation in this region. See also the latest WWM report about Andrew Brunson, imprisoned in Turkey.

LAOS: A Church for the So

Source: OMF International, December 2017

Ten years ago, very few, if any, So people called on Jesus as Lord [and] very few of them had ever heard the name of Jesus or the gospel message.

Through a combination of miracles, intentional discipleship, and testing through persecution, the first So church was established in 2013. Initially, many of the new believers knew Jesus more as healer than savior.

The Christians who first began working among the So continued to disciple the new church’s leaders wherever they could—in the jungle, in boats, guesthouses, or in town.

They answered every question the new believers had, such as how to say prayers before sleep or in the morning, how to not take part in temple ceremonies but still be a part of their community, how to do a Christian wedding, how to bless a new house, and how to officiate funerals. Everything was modeled and practiced before the new church. Then, the older Christians helped the So Christians do it. Finally, discipleship and encouragement was given over the phone and the So believers began doing it on their own.

Today there are about seven So churches serving more than 260 So believers. The churches are elder-led and share the responsibility for shepherding, discipling, teaching and starting new groups. Some of the churches have seen started spreading the gospel to other people groups in the region.

» Full story further illustrates the “Model, Assist, Watch, Leave” (MAWL) method for cross-cultural church planting. Learn more about people groups of the Mekong region.

Five Hopes for 2018 | Practical Mobilization

By Shane Bennett

One of the funnest parts of January for me is the opportunity, sometimes, to help launch a Perspectives course by teaching lesson one. On the first night of class, it’s all hope and possibility. And since the odds of being the best speaker are slim, I’m happy to be the first!

The hope that infuses the Perspectives material and flows through the missiology that undergirds is what I find so encouraging, even invigorating: God is doing something huge for his name! And that work for his name not only involves cleaning, reclaiming, and restoring us, but even inviting us into the amazing honor of joining in his purposes. It’s staggering, really.

I want to blow on those embers of possibility in both you and me today by sharing five big hopes that I have for 2018 and asking to hear some of yours.

1. Substantive shifts in the global refugee situation

I hope that 2018 sees life turn toward good for many of the most gut-wrenching refugee situations. How great would it be for Syrians to begin to return home, accompanied by a massive reconstruction effort?

For the Rohingya I hope and pray for resolution that I honestly can’t even imagine. In my wildest dreams I don’t see how this situation can get better soon. But trusting God’s power to be superior to my imagination, I pray he’ll make a difference.

I also pray for the hundreds of thousands of would-be migrants to Sicily now marooned in Libya. In mid-2017 Italy partnered with a Libyan militia to hinder northward migration. While successful and good for Sicily, this has cheapened the lives of many who now suffer unimaginably in Libya.

Finally, I hope my country, the US (you hope for yours!) will act toward refugees in ways that honor God. It’s hard to see how we go from here to there, but again God can make a way.

2. A growing wave of young, smart, global entrepreneurs

Last weekend I watched a sharp documentary called Poverty, Inc. Depending on what you’re up to your ears in, it might make you sad. Or it might anger you. Or, if you’re like me and watch it with a radical young couple bent on honoring God and changing their part of the world, it might fill you with hope. Jesse and Jessica live in Liberia with For the Lamb. They’re starting a compressed-earth block company. They’re dreaming about their business helping Liberians and, even better, helping Liberians help themselves.

I’m dreaming about hundreds of Jesses and Jessicas from the US. From Europe. And even better, from Senegal, Syria, and Singapore… wisely and bravely stepping into situations where the enemy has stolen, killed, and destroyed, with their arms and minds full of the abundant life of Jesus.

I’m hoping they will be joined by hundreds of women and men skilled at PTSD counseling and training others. Few of the 65 million currently displaced people in the world will escape without some deep wounds.

3. A shift in sentiments toward Muslims

In 2018 I hope we see a measurable shift among Americans toward Muslims, both American Muslims and others. I’d like to see Christians on a grand scale trade apathy, anxiousness, and anger for connection and love toward Muslims near and far.

When God told Abraham that he and Sarah would be a conduit through which blessings would extend to all the peoples of the earth, that pretty much included everyone. And when Jesus hung out and laughed with Samaritans, he was showing us, among other things, how to interact with Muslims and others who like them. I would love to hear what you might be doing to make this hope real or what you think might need done.

I’d also like to invite you into my small, but growing effort called Muslim Connect, a super-short weekly email designed to help us think like God about Muslims and love them like Jesus does.

4. A fundamental increase in generosity

After way too long being way underfunded, I’ve hired what’s known in our tribal parlance as a Partnership Development Coach. Turns out this guy, who works as part of Stewardship Ambassadors, is not primarily going to help me talk people into giving to my ministry… he’s going help me help people grow in obedient generosity, and apparently that starts with me. You can imagine my surprise, as well as my hope for a broad-based increase in generosity throughout the global church and beyond.

What I hope to see grow in my own heart, an openness to gladly share of the good stuff God has given me, I hope to see grow in all of our hearts. Most of you, I’m guessing, are starting on a higher floor than me. But many of us have some room to grow.

5. Movements

Finally, I’m hoping that in 2018 we see God’s hand extended to continue gathering a great harvest. Recent research shows a growing number of multiplying movements to Christ particularly among unreached peoples. One observer has charted well over 600 movements in which multiple streams of disciples have reached four generations deep. This means someone following Jesus who leads her friends to him who then lead their friends to him who then lead their friends to follow him. Additionally, he sees thousands of movements that are emerging but have yet to hit the four-generation mark. What might we see as they mature?!? This is huge!

To give legs to both number four and five above, I’d like to give you at my expense a free copy of Stubborn Perseverance, a novelized story of a movement to Christ in Southeast Asia. It is both gripping and instructive. It will fill you with hope and wisdom for what God is up to in our day. To claim your free copy enter my name and email where it asks for the name of “your generous friend” (Ha!) Free print books are limited to the first 100 and only to the US. Kindle or pdf versions are not limited either in number or by geography.

I would love to hear your hopes for 2018 or your thoughts on mine. Respond to this email or post them on our website or Facebook page.

Ornitheology? | World News Briefs

 

In This Issue:

  1. USA: Faith Takes Flight
  2. INDIA: Man “Converted by Carol Singers” Now Claims Membership in Militant Hindu Group
  3. NORTH KOREA: Five Gut-Wrenching Facts
  4. FINLAND: Reaching Russians
  5. USA: Transforming Virtual Conversations

Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash.

Greetings,

Sometimes the news is confusing. I’m not referring to opposing views. Nor am I referring to unreliable sources. Sometimes it is just confusing because we live in a crazy, broken, mixed-up world.

In some of the stories I found this week, information is simply missing or mystifying. I submit them to you knowing that Missions Catalyst readers are intercessors. We can always pray for captives to be set free, take flight, and escape “the snare of the fowler” (Psalm 124:7).

We know so little of what is really going on, but God knows.

Pat

USA: Faith Takes Flight

Source: ASSIST News Service, January 7, 2018
Editor’s note: Did you know January 5 was “National Bird Day”?

“Consider the birds” [Jesus] reminded the disciples as he discussed how God cares for them. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” he asks his followers, stating, “Not one will be forgotten before God,” inferring the Lord will not forget his children. Jesus also compared birds to the kingdom of God: “The birds come and make nests.” Jesus references birds when discussing the fact that he has no home: “The birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” The Holy Spirit—in the form of a dove—descended upon Jesus at his baptism. Roughly 300 passages found in the Bible reference birds.

Reformer Martin Luther, called birds “our schoolmasters.” The Christian poet and clergyman George Herbert used birds in some of his poems. C.S Lewis used birds throughout his Chronicles of Narnia, showing their variety and beauty, naming over a dozen in Aslan’s kingdom.

Probably the best-known bird-watching clergyman was John Stott. As a great enthusiast of birds, Stott called his admiration of birds, “orni-theology.” One of his best-loved books is Birds Our Teachers. In this work he relates birds to subjects ranging from repentance, self-esteem, gratitude, work, freedom, joy, and love. Birds are more than just feathery fowl, but teachers tethering us to God’s grace and creativity, helping our faith take flight.

» Read full story to consider what we can learn from the birds.

» This article reminded me of what my friend, blogger Bev Ewart wrote about the Goose Poop and Glory as well as The Goldfinch.

INDIA: Man “Converted by Carol Singers” Now Claims Membership in Militant Hindu Group

Source: World Watch Monitor, December 19, 2017

An Indian man who claimed a group of carol singers illegally converted him has now said he is a member of the militant Hindu group Bajrang Dal and is unwilling to confirm his allegation. The complaint made [December 14] to the police by Dharmendra Dohar led to the arrest of 30 Christians, who insisted they were only singing songs.

When Dohar was asked by New Delhi TV if he had changed his religion, he said: “I can’t speak on this… If I do, I will get embroiled in the issue… It will be said that I’m changing my statement.” The “group,” [assumedly Bajrang Dal] he said, doesn’t want “such people (Christians) to come in here,” reported the broadcaster.

NDTV asked Dohar if it was Bajrang Dal or the police he was afraid of. He said: “I’m concerned about my family. It is because of me they got into trouble… We were told not to allow these people (Christians) to come into our homes and mingle with us.” Dohar also alleged that the carol singers paid him 5,000 rupees (US$80) and told him to “worship Jesus Christ.”

The incident took place in a village near Satna in Madhya Pradesh. The central Indian state has some of the strictest anti-conversion laws in the country.

» Full story offers some explanation but leaves questions unanswered.

» Also related to regional religious conflict: A highly anticipated Bollywood blockbuster has been delayed after a politician from India’s governing party offered a bounty on the heads of the movie’s star and director, claiming the film distorts Hindu legends (The Independent). The plight of Hindus in Bangladesh reportedly continues to deteriorate (Foreign Policy).

NORTH KOREA: Five Gut-Wrenching Facts

Source: Open Doors, December 13, 2017

In a new report on North Korean prison camps, one of the judges, a former child survivor from Auschwitz, said the conditions were as bad—or even worse—than what he witnessed in the Nazi concentration camps.

The report shared by the IBA (International Bar Association) War Committee offers chilling details from personal testimonies, video, transcripts, and scholarly works about the state of North Korea’s prison camps. We share these facts to help you understand the severe mistreatment, injustice, and abuse many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are subjected to daily within North Korea’s infamous prison camp system.

  1. There are an estimated 80,000-130,000 political prisoners held in North Korea’s prison camps.
  2. Inside the camps, prisoners are often “tortured and killed on account of their religious affiliation, with officials instructed ‘to wipe out the seed of [Christian] reactionaries.’”
  3. In one account, guards killed a prisoner’s newborn baby by feeding it to the guard dogs.
  4. The report also explains the fact that routine public executions are carried out in front of both children and adults, “designed to subdue the prison population.” In another case, the prison guards executed starving prisoners “found digging for edible plants on a mountainside.”
  5. There were many more cases reported of inhumane treatment, deliberate starvation, cruelty, abuse, rape, forced abortions, and murder. Some of the details in the report are too graphic to share.

As hard as it is to read—or even imagine—this is a reality. We can’t afford to look away from this—or to let our Christian family in North Korea feel isolated and alone.

» full story inluddes links to download the report or an executive summary.

» To learn about one ministry serving North Korean defectors, see English Opens Doors for North Koreans (One Mission Society).

FINLAND: Reaching Russians

Source: Resonate Global Mission, November 16, 2017

For many years, Alexander has sensed God calling him to plant a new church for Russians. Now in the last months, that vision is taking shape in new and exciting ways.

A Russian himself, Alexander joined a group of other leaders from his church and around the region for a leadership training event led by a missionary. Many in the group were interested in planting churches for Russian speakers outside of Russia.

“We met almost every month, and Alexander’s strategies for church planting grew over the course of the year,” says the missionary.

Through the process, Alexander felt he now had the new skills that he needed to take the next step. He answered a call from his sending church to plant a new church in Helsinki, Finland, a part of Europe with a quickly growing Russian population.

Alexander secured a job in Helsinki and started getting to know the city, connecting with other Christians as well as Russian speakers. One of the most important connections he made was with Saalem Church, a church that has a unique ministry of reaching out to the needs of the ethnic groups represented in the city.

“Saalem Church seems to do a great job embracing the immigrant population of Helsinki,” adds the missionary. “We attended the service there on a Sunday, and there were groups of people from all backgrounds.”

As Alexander’s relationship with this Finnish church grew, he shared his vision with members there, and they too supported his desire to share the gospel with Russian speakers. Saalem offered Alexander a space to worship and spiritual oversight, as well as visa support.

Today about 20 people are involved in the church for Russian speakers.

» Read full story.

» See also a thoughtful and gracious testimony, this one from a Mexican-American, about how the immigrant experience lends itself to encountering God (Christianity Today).

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