In the shadow of the day’s headlines | World News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_large

  1. NORTH KOREA: Canadian Pastor Freed after More Than Two Years
  2. GUAM: Radio Broadcasting into North Korea
  3. NEPAL: Freedom of Religion Leads to Church Growth
  4. CHAD: “It’s Your Fault He Died!”

… And find more stories in our Twitter feed.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Chad_2017_0270101337Christians may face the wrath of the community when they turn their backs on worship of ancestors and things like trees and mountains to serve the creator God. This was the case with Samuel from southern Chad. See story below (Open Doors).

Greetings,

In putting together the news briefs we try to sidestep both political news and editorials, yet intriguing stories of kingdom challenges and advance are sometimes found in the shadows of the day’s headlines. This edition includes several such stories.

You might also be interested in several articles about Syria, one describing the escape of seven Armenian Christians from ISIS-held Raqqa, another providing chilling details from the findings of a study of torture in ISIS prisons, and a third about how Christians are persevering in Aleppo.

For short, thoughtful, biblical insights on current events, consider subscribing to a monthly editorial from the director of INcontext. This month’s article is about our sometimes conflicting desires for certainty and understanding.

Blessings,
Pat

NORTH KOREA: Canadian Pastor Freed after More Than Two Years in Prison

Source: INcontext, August 10, 2017

North Korea freed a Canadian pastor serving a life sentence on humanitarian grounds, the official KCNA news agency said on Wednesday, just hours after the United States warned it would counter any threat from the North with “fire and fury.”

There was no clear connection between the release of [62-year-old] Hyeon Soo Lim and the heightened rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang.

Lim, who served in one of the largest churches in Canada, had been sentenced to hard labor for life in December 2015 after North Korea accused him of attempting to overthrow the regime.

Lim’s Toronto-area church has said he visited the North more than 100 times since 1997 and helped set up an orphanage and nursing home. Last year, Lim told CNN he spent eight hours a day digging holes at a labor camp where he had not seen any other prisoners.

» Read full story and see a moving story about Lin’s experiences (CBC).

GUAM: Radio Broadcasting into North Korea

Source: Mission Network News, August 15, 2017

Recently, North Korea threatened to launch missiles at the US territory of Guam. But even as North Korea postures with missile launch threats, Trans World Radio (TWR) in Guam has already been launching something else into North Korea… radio broadcasts of the gospel. In doing so, TWR is encouraging the remnant Church in North Korea. But the job is risky. North Korea is the number one persecutor of Christians, according to Open Doors’ World Watch List. And an outside radio is considered an illegal commodity in North Korea.

“The stories we’ve got is that people who have a radio keep it in a plastic bag and will bury it during the daytime and then dig it up at night and listen to the broadcast. A lot of times, people listen in very small groups in homes. We know that there are groups of believers in North Korea and we know that the church is alive and well and probably growing under persecution,” [says TWR’s Lauren Libby].

TWR currently hopes to increase their programming into North Korea by up to two hours so they can reach more people, whoever can listen, with the good news of Jesus Christ.

» Read full story or a related article on TWR’s website. You might also appreciate a short video with messages from Christian radio listeners in North Korea.

NEPAL: Freedom of Religion Leads to Church Growth

Source: Mission Network News, August 8, 2017

“Nepal has become the country where Christianity is growing at the fastest pace of any nation in the world,” says John Pudaite, President of Bibles For The World (BFTW). “The Body of Christ has been growing at almost ten percent per year, and we’re just blessed to be a part of what God is doing in Nepal.”

But why the sudden spiritual growth spurt? Pudaite says it comes from politics. “For centuries, Nepal was under a very restrictive monarchy and as the country opened up to democracy and developed its own constitution, all of a sudden people realized they did have a choice when it came to what they believed.” Christ’s message of mercy and truth is appealing to many, causing the Church to grow at an unprecedented rate.

Newfound freedom of religion also means newfound challenges, Pudaite says.

» Read full story.

» For another glimpse of this country, see Nepali Hindus Celebrate Sacred Thread Festival (Huffington Post).

CHAD: “It’s Your Fault He Died!”

Source: Open Doors, August 3, 2017

Samuel entered the dark hut to see his cousin lying on a mat, drenched in sweat and curled up in excruciating pain. Occasionally Alphonse mustered what little strength was left in his body to lift himself onto one elbow and vomit into a bucket his children had placed next to him.

“You need to take your father to a hospital,” Samuel told Alphonse’s children. “This looks like appendicitis.”

The children refused. They were determined to stick to superstitious medicinal concoctions instead, afraid they might offend the spirits by seeking modern medical care. When there was no improvement a few days later they decided to take Alphonse to the hospital but it was too late. Alphonse died shortly after surgery.

A family member phoned from the hospital to tell Samuel the tragic news and then declared, “It is your fault he has died! You told us to take him to hospital, and that is where he died!”

Samuel knew the community would side with the family of Alphonse so he gathered all his family members and sought refuge at the home of the village head. While Samuel’s family was safe inside those walls, their property was sat unguarded. Alphonse’s children burned it all down.

“I lost everything,” Samuel remembers. “We had a barn full of food, farm produce, farm equipment, and other personal belongings. Everything was lost in the fire. All we had left were the clothes on our bodies. Initially, I filed a lawsuit against them. But then I had second thoughts. I concluded that it was not worth it. Even though I continue to receive threats from them, I have decided to forgive everything. I have forgiven them completely.”

When Open Doors heard about the incident, we visited Samuel and his family to encourage them and pray with them. We also helped them afford a temporary place to stay while they rebuilt their home. The project has since been completed and Samuel’s family have moved into their new home.

“I have hope because I know that nothing is impossible for God. Even if men forsake me, God will never forsake me,” Samuel said. “He will restore me unto his glory.”

» Read full story with prayer points.

» See also a story on the cost of conversion in a West African culture where peace is everything (Pioneers).

Memorial for Hall-of-Famer Bill Dickson

Good people pass from this life every day, most without the recognition they merit. May that not be the case for Bill Dickson, a long-time Global Mapping International staffer and member of the broader community of people working hard to complete the Great Commission.

Bill Dickson died in a car crash on August 2. He worked in the background of a growing movement, logging hours that were long, challenging, and largely unsung. LightSys, the organization with which Bill most recently worked, issued a press release about his life. Here’s an excerpt.

Bill is best known for his pioneering work using database technology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and digital publishing for the cause of global mission. Bill was instrumental in supporting hundreds of organizations globally in their use of technology in the early days of the digital era. Some of those included the International Mission Board, World Vision, Lausanne, COMIBAM (the Latin American mission association), The CoMission (an effort to engage the former Soviet Union when the Berlin Wall fell), MANI (Movement for African National Initiatives), and many others. He also helped create the digital versions of products such as Operation World, Peoples of the Buddhist World, the North American Mission Handbook, Operation China, and The Future of the Global Church.

His passion for missions can best be summed up in his own words:

“I believe that we have an enemy who likes to muddle communication and confuse efforts to take news of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth. I believe that good research, done cooperatively, is like turning on the lights in a dark room, and that instead of stumbling over each other in the dark, Kingdom workers can develop trust and begin moving together with clarity and purpose.”

Thank you to people who financially and prayerful support people like Bill. Their work isn’t flashy, but strategic almost beyond measure.

» Read or post memories of Bill.

Helping Kids Help Kids at School

America is going back to school. Little munchkins are buying notebooks, boarding busses, and beginning a new year of education, fun, and tribalism. Cliques are forming and re-forming in the primordial ooze of public schools. Some kids are wooed, others cautiously invited in and too many are overlooked, marginalized, and excluded.

You went to school, right? Were you the same color as most of your classmates? One of my friends, a tall, fair, redhead, arrived for the first day of ninth grade in her new school to find a classroom otherwise entirely filled with students of Pakistani descent. Her teacher arrived, noticed her, and said, “You must be the new girl!” She replied, “How’d you guess?” It’s a challenge to be different.

Thousands of variables affect group formation and insider/outsider status in our kids’ schools. As followers of Jesus, maybe we should be concerned about them all. We should definitely take pains to keep kids from being mistreated because they happen to be Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim. In fact, maybe we should encourage our kids to extend a hand to such kids.

What can your little Jesus kids do about this? In ascending order of social riskiness, they could…

  1. Keep their cute little mouths shut! Simply don’t join in when kids are being made fun of for the color of their skin or the religious situation they were born into. (They’ll do what they’ve seen at home!)
  2. Sit by the kids no one wants to sit by. Talk to them. (“I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”)
  3. Invite those kids to into their group. “Sit with us.” “Be on my team.” “Do you have a group for the project yet? Join ours.” (As a bonus, overlooked smart kids will help your kids’ grades!)
  4. Defend them before the “popular” kids. (This is gonna leave a mark!)
  5. Invite them to dinner at your house! (Stock up on halal snacks!)

Are there Muslim students at your school? Download this one-page primer for your kids. Take a quick look before you give it to them because you may want to yell at me, “Dude, what are you? 100 years old?” If you want to amend it for others to make it better, let me know. Or simply adapt it for your kids; you do know how to cut and paste.

If, during the first couple days of school, you’ll simply greet the mom in the burka or say hey to the dad with the odd name, your kids may get the picture and behave the same way. Unless they are thirteen, in which case they will just do the opposite of what you say and do!

» Other thoughts about this topic? Comment on our website or Facebook page or email Shane.

Subversive Mobilization: Baby Steps

A guy came up to me after church on Sunday to mention a talk he’d heard recently that helped him think about Muslims in a significantly new way. He said he felt an openness to engage with them he’d not known before. Furthermore, he was a sharp professional and north of 60 years old.

This encouraged me that mobilization has value and that by God’s grace and providence, Christians of all ages can be open to learning new things and taking new steps.

So I have this question for you: What are some of the baby steps believers might need to take to begin to connect with unreached peoples? Can you give 90 seconds to the cause by clicking below and sharing a “baby step” that comes to mind?

» Access and add to the list. Thanks for lending your wisdom.

(If you’re thinking, “Don’t call them ‘baby steps’ because that is super patronizing,” I’m with you! I just haven’t settled on the right name yet.)

Tremendous obstacles, transformed lives | World News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn This Issue:

  1. THAILAND: Some Jungles Have Wifi
  2. NORTH KOREA: Government Agent Accepted Jesus on His Deathbed
  3. MALAWI: Saladin’s Struggle
  4. GREECE: Turning Hearts of Stone to Hearts of Flesh
  5. SAUDI ARABIA: Reaching Mecca

… And find more stories in our Twitter feed. We’re approaching 5,000 followers and would love to have you join us there!

Greetings,

Midsummer is a time when many in North America are more likely to be awed by the night sky. I am looking forward to watching the lunar eclipse August 21.  If you are in the US, you might find this tool helpful to determine when it will affect your city.

As I read the headlines, I am constantly asking what “news” is heaven interested in? One could also ask what AWES heaven? What should awe Christians? Rev. Tad de Bordenave of Anglican Frontier Missions ponders this in his recent post Bottom Dwellers, Black Holes, and the Bagri. In light of today’s edition, I might add to the alliteration: Bangkok.

In AWE of him who created all,
Pat