Missions Catalyst News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn this issue: Glimpses of the Global Church

  1. HAITI: Time to Send Out Missionaries
  2. SOUTHEAST ASIA: Calling Hispanics to Change the World
  3. IRAN: Actor Transformed by the Gospel
  4. NEPAL: Miriam Refuses to Stop Praying
  5. SYRIA: “We Are Going Through a Terrible Moment”
For additional news, see our Twitter feed.

Punjabi Zabor

Dear Readers,

My all-time favorite prayer for the nations is from Psalm 24: “Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” You may also recognize it from Handel’s Messiah. I was delighted to find that the same prayer is being sung by Pakistanis. Enjoy this upbeat version in Hindi/Urdu, Punjabi Zabor 24:7-10.

Don’t forget that this week you have the chance to join millions who are praying this Global Day of Prayer, Pentecost Sunday, May 24. As you consider how to pray, may I again commend to you the resource World in Prayer? I noticed that they often give praises for “good news” as well as lift up the “bad news” before God. The May 8 edition of World News This Week in Prayer is a great example.

Also this week, Christian Solidarity Worldwide has asked for prayer for China. Watch this two-minute video and access more resources.

William Carey famously said, “To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.” Wouldn’t he love to see the maps we have now? Here are some I bet he would have used (all from Flowing Data):

A recent Lausanne Global Analysis challenges our ideas about data:

“What is happening in mission statistics is wonderful for prayer and for mobilization. By and large, what is missing are actionable data. To obtain data that informs on-the-ground ministry, another step is needed,” says the report, adding that  for national churches and mission organizations to use data in developing and implementing their strategies, the information needs to be reliable, recent, detailed, and reportable.

“The way to do this is to change from gathering statistics for missionaries to gathering data for a nation: national church statistics. An outsider perspective has to be changed to an insider perspective. That is the major challenge facing missionary statistics today.”

I hope you’ll read the whole article. Meanwhile, some insider perspectives; today’s newsbriefs highlight stories of laborers for the kingdom whom God is raising up from all over: a Haitian missionary, Hispanic mobilizer, Iranian evangelist, Nepali intercessor, and an Assyrian advocate. Thanks for standing with them in prayer.


HAITI: Time to Send Out Missionaries

Source: OM News, May 7, 2015

Pastor Marc had a vision to mobilize the Haitian church into missions, and now his prayers are becoming a reality. Six Haitians have joined OM full-time this year, and OM has a vision is to send even more, especially to French-speaking North Africa.

Ruth is a nurse with a passion for HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention. She is also a new OM missionary from Haiti who is raising support to travel to schools and communities around Haiti providing education to those who are still greatly affected by stigmas and lack of knowledge. HIV and AIDS is a big problem in Haiti and is on the rise.

“I wanted to go to people and teach them more about HIV and AIDS and also about Jesus,” Ruth said. “I want to go all over Haiti, I want to go school to school, mountain to mountain… I really like that, and I wanted to be a nurse-missionary!”

There are many Haitians who are excited about missions and want to make a difference yet struggle to raise the funds necessary. But they persevere, determined to overcome the many challenges to serve in whatever way God calls.

» Read full story.

» Note: Former receiving nations that now send workers may avoid making the mistakes of those who came to them. Watch this humorous Cautionary Tale (Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions).

SOUTHEAST ASIA: Calling Hispanics to Change the World

Source: IMB Commission Stories, April 30, 2015

Hispanic followers of Christ are ready to change the world, declares singer Coalo Zamorano, one of the top contemporary Christian musicians in the Spanish-speaking world.

That’s the message—and the title—of Zamorano’s new music video (Cambia el Mundo), produced in partnership with IMB. The video, shot in a part of Southeast Asia mostly untouched by the gospel of Jesus Christ, invites Hispanics to “open your hands, your heart… change the world, change the world today.”

“The next missionary movement is going to come from the Hispanic community,” said Zamorano, 42, an internationally renowned singer, composer, producer, and Latin Grammy winner.

“I think that God is already calling many people in the Hispanic world to bring the gospel… We must go, we must be brave and believe in God because he is going to open doors.”

» Read full story and watch video.

IRAN: Actor Transformed by the Gospel

Source: Iran Alive Ministries, May 14, 2015

A movie actor named Arash [called] our counseling center. Arash described himself as “a money-loving and angry man who would do anything to acquire riches.” Arash went on to explain that his greed and anger cost him his friends [and] his career and ultimately left him depressed and despondent.

While flipping through the channels on his satellite TV one evening, Arash stumbled across our network. After several hours of listening to God’s Word, Arash came to understand that Jesus had a different purpose for his life.

In his living room, in front of his TV, Arash asked Christ into his heart and trusted him to forgive him of his sins and transform his life.

After a short period of time, Arash noticed that his greed was replaced with compassion and his anger with joy. Cautiously optimistic, he re-launched his acting career and has found it to be a great source of peace and a platform for sharing Christ with others.

» Read full story. You might also appreciate, from the same source, Jesus Visits Iranian Prisoner in His Dream and Sets Him Free!

NEPAL: Miriam Refuses to Stop Praying

Source: IMB Commission Stories, May 6, 2015

Miriam awoke from her Saturday nap on April 25 with a start. Since she was up, the elderly woman decided to start her daily noon prayer 15 minutes early.

The prayer was made up of the normal requests—asking God to give her husband health; watching over her adult son; tidbits from people requesting her intercession; and asking for her neighbors and her country of Nepal to know Jesus… [then] a loud noise cracked throughout the brick home.

“I thought it was a car,” the toothless woman said with a giggle one week after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake. “But then the house started shaking and everyone was screaming, ‘EARTHQUAKE! EARTHQUAKE!’”

Her husband came to get her out of the second-story bedroom, but she refused to move. She refused to stop praying. She knew that she, a leper with no fingers or legs, could do more good by praying to God for her country’s protection than going outside to safety. Her husband only argued once, then sat on the floor and joined her.

» Full story includes pictures, prayer points, and a brief video.

» Also check out this amazing collection of infographics on Nepal (Pinterest/GMI).

SYRIA: “We Are Going Through a Terrible Moment”

Source: World Watch Monitor, May 8, 2015

As hard-fought land battles continued during March and April, dozens of the displaced Assyrian families began fleeing Hassaka to resettle abroad. “The situation in Hassaka is bad and very fragile,” Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the East told World Watch Monitor. The clashes have now come close to the suburbs of Hassaka city, where the archbishops of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syriac Catholic Church are headquartered. Only 800 Christian families remain in the province, he said.

“Assyrian Christians are facing a danger that threatens their existence in their historical regions,” Youkhana told the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights in Brussels on April 23.

The future of Hassaka’s Christians became increasingly precarious after Syria’s revolution took an overt Islamist turn in 2013, once the Assad regime had pulled most of its army forces out of northeastern Syria.

An Assyrian doctor working in a government hospital in Qamishli told World Watch Monitor in late March that it was impossible to trust any of the sides fighting for control of Hassaka province.

In Beirut, Bishop Yatron Koliana of the Assyrian Church of the East sadly agreed. “We are fasting and praying that the governments of the world will not give weapons or facilitate things for the Islamic State and their allies,” he told World Watch Monitor. ”Sometimes we feel that Christians here are being sold for oil and gas. So we plead for prayers, that the big decision-makers will have mercy in their hearts to save us.”

» Read full story.

» Editor’s Note: Long-time Missions Catalyst readers know I like to look at holidays as bridges for sharing the gospel, and lately I’ve taken more of an interest in the traditions of our Orthodox brothers and sisters. Tomorrow (May 21) many celebrate Ascension Day. Not a big deal to most Christians, but it does mark the day Jesus gave us the Great Commission! See Ascension Day and the Great Commission (Orthodox-Reformed Bridge).

Too Many Needs. Too Little Time.


How to respond to a world of seemingly unlimited requests for help

By Shane Bennett

I’ve had an unusual and troubling experience over the last couple of weeks. If you read April’s Practical Mobilization column you may remember me harping on Sicily and the staggering number of migrants landing there lately. I’ve been scheming and dreaming about this situation for several months now and was happily surprised to see the issue foremost in my mind become the issue foremost on global media. I didn’t want more boats to sink just so the issue would gain greater prominence, but I did want to responsibly “strike while the iron was hot.”

Then the Himalayas shook to their roots, thousands perished in minutes, and Nepal pushed my issue right off the front page. I confess, part of my brain though (but only briefly), “Ah, man, there goes the attention I’d hoped to leverage for migrants in Sicily. There go the funds I was hoping to raise.” I’m not too proud of that response!

It’s indicative, though, isn’t it? We live in a world of incalculable need. Global connectivity brings needs to our attention and the curious can now even watch HD drone footage of latest devastation. You probably get more requests for prayer, funds, and involvement than you can possibly respond to. You love Jesus, but you can’t do it all.

About a month ago, I fell in love with a relatively new movie called The Good Lie. Rent it and watch it this weekend. It’s a story about refugees coming to America. It’s a Hollywood film, with a predictably happy Hollywood ending. Except for the gut-wrenching reality that this reasonably good outcome occurs in the context of tens of millions of unhappy ones. It’s almost too much to deal with.

How does a heart of compassion respond?

My friend David recently expressed his feeling of being, “bombarded with many requests even from my own community as we launch another season of short-term mission trips.”

What do you when a dozen bright, young, college students send you letters asking for prayer and funds? Even when you consider that your paltry paycheck is many times greater than that of most people in the world? What does God expect of us when each crisis seems more devastating than the one before?

These questions call for book-length answers and long conversations over coffee or something stronger. At the risk of being trite, let me float out some thoughts. Please bless the rest of us by commenting and letting us know how you deal with these common issues.

1. Keep God at the center.

I’m sorry if this goes without saying, but as we consider the need of the world and the various requests to respond that we encounter, we’ve got to remember God, who he is, and what he is doing. He knows the number of hairs on every head. He knows every tummy ache, every loss, every relentless search, every sleepless night of despair, and every thought of suicide. He is near to the brokenhearted. He is not unaware of the pain. He has calculated the need.

If I didn’t believe that, I’m not sure what I would do.

But I do believe it. And that is the first layer of response for me: God is more concerned than I am and it’s his responsibility more than mine. I (we) have the actually quite stunning privilege to partner with God in his response to the world’s need. Is that not remarkable?

2. Don’t shut down.

One response option is to decide to simply not respond. It may be the extreme version of “bloom where you’re planted,” e.g., “I’m planted on my couch and I will bloom here while I binge watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix.”

I remember wresting with this during a long-ago sojourn in Mumbai. My team leader and I were in a cab driving through a part of town where people gathered to beg. When one guy wheeled up to my team leader’s rolled-down window and asked for something, my TL stared straight ahead. The beggar glanced at me and said, “Uncle is a bad man. He will not even look.” Before he could ask me for something, we rolled away.

I could understand where my team leader was coming from. On the one hand, the need was too great for us to fix it. We knew enough to sense how very little we knew about the situation, the real situation, of most of these people. So a clear option, which we both went with from time to time, was to shut down and simply not connect.

Please don’t do that, not every time. Please don’t kill that part of you that cares.

3. Choose where to give.

I want to be more generous than I am. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 challenge me: “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” And Jesus teaches us, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8).

Assuming that you can’t give to everything, how do you decide?

It seems too trite to say, “Just ask God and do what he says.” At the same time, I know I need to cultivate a greater sensitivity to God. Two weeks ago I was driving away from lunch with a young man who was working with me for the day. He said, “Hang on a second,” and then proceeded to pull a couple of dollars out of his pocket for an aging man begging on the corner. I was challenged by this guy, who though younger, poorer, and, as far as I know, less Christian than me, looked a lot more like Jesus than I did. I’d noticed the man begging the day before but did nothing. I need to learn to listen better.

I also think we’d be wise to invest more in fewer things. If you regularly get fifteen summer mission support letters, perhaps you could decide to give significantly to two of them, trusting God to provide in other ways for the rest. (In fact, though it’s beyond my authority, I give you permission to do that!) Or ask God if he would give you a burden for a particular kind of work, maybe in a particular place. Then dive into that and live free from guilt over what you’re not doing.

4. Learn to say no.

Briefly, you’re free to toss unsolicited direct mail. You’re free to not “like” causes that make it to your Facebook news feed because someone invited their whole friend list to “like” it. Revel in this freedom.

But if a friend writes, calls, or texts you, please respond. Speaking as someone who raises funds to feed my kids, a “no” is better than no response. I know you’re busy and things get lost. Heavens, I’ve ignored more than my share of personal requests as well. Maybe we can band together and decide that we will respond, even if that means we need to say no.

5. Choose how to give.

Maybe your best gift to someone who’s asking for prayer and funds is to really give them some prayer! Actually do it! Write out your prayer and send it to them. If you’re prone to forget, carry a small token, a marble or something, with your keys for a couple weeks, and pray each time you bump into it.

Maybe your best gift is advice. I think we should assume the best and be quite cautious about judging what someone feels that God is asking them to do. But if you have grave concerns beyond just looking for a reason not to give (or is that just me?), please share them. You may save someone a busload of grief.

This side of the fullness of God’s kingdom we will have pain and great need. May God overwhelm us with grace to respond as he desires. May he free us from guilt over what we can’t or don’t do. May he multiply our gifts and service to his great glory.

» How do you choose what needs to respond to? Comment on this article on our website or Facebook page and please forward or share it freely.

Image source: Angelinux (Flikr/Creative Commons)

Subversive Mobilization: Don’t Let Media Wreck Your Mission Trip

Our friends at DELTA Ministries are helping us all again: Check out their hour-long webinar on Tuesday, May 19 on “how to keep social media from wrecking your STM trip.” Here’s a little description:

“What rules do you have for social media on your mission trips? Social media can be a great way to build relationships with those you just visited, but it can also destroy those relationships. This webinar will talk about how to use social media in appropriate and contextual ways before, during, and after your short-term mission trip.”

» Learn more or register. Looks like you can access other recorded webinars from this series on short-term mission topics; US$10 apiece.

May 6 Extra Edition

Dear friends,

While we don’t have a full edition of Missions Catalyst for you today, here are a few quick items and updates which might pique your interest.

  1. The Kindle edition of the novel Child of Ishmael, which we reviewed in April, is free on Amazon. But the sale ends today. A good read.
  2. Christianity Today drew together reports about how the earthquake has affected Nepal’s Christian community. Keep praying.
  3. A new Discovery Bible App includes 30 “Creation to Christ” lessons, in text or audio, which anyone (who has an android device) can use to lead a reproducible Bible study in English or Arabic. Well done.
  4. TheNations.us, a mobilization website, now features an interactive chart for prospective workers seeking a sending agency. It profiles 14 of the larger agencies that send US workers to the least reached. A handy reference.

We’ll be back with you next week with the May edition of Practical Mobilization.

Marti Wade