World News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeMissions Catalyst News Briefs 7.1.15

  1. WORLD: Wars and Statistics
  2. INDIA: Holiday Wars
  3. LEBANON: Muslim Leaders Condemn Persecution of Christians
  4. WORLD: Refugees, Crisis or Opportunity?
  5. INDONESIA: Former Jihadist Starts Jesus Communities

HopeinJesusListen to Josh Lavender sing Hope in Jesus.

Greetings!

How do you communicate hope? Before we can communicate hope to others we must learn to make them feel welcome. I am finding that the tools that a missionary needs to communicate well are also needed close to home. The pluralistic West hosts many subcultures, even where I live in upstate New York. In light of that, my pastor sent me a helpful list of seven things to say to church visitors and from the same source ten things you should never say (Thom Rainer).

Even more helpful is this list of things to avoid saying in an honor/shame context (HonorShame.com). The explanations are SO helpful. I think some of my relatives are from an honor/shame subculture!

Communicating hope must also be done with prayer. Are you praying this Ramadan for Muslims? Here are some ways to pray for Muslims besieged by war (Zwemer Center).

Communicating hope in Jesus,

Pat

WORLD: Wars and Statistics

Sources: various via Pat Noble, June 2015

Did you realize that Monday, June 29 was the one-year anniversary of the declared “caliphate” by ISIS? It bought to mind  an interview with Philip Jenkins by The Gospel Coalition which discussed Jenkins’ latest book, The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade. Meanwhile, many evangelicals in the U.S. and elsewhere are despairing about the moral decline of society.

All this causes me to think about social changes, especially those that are ideologically driven. How is the enemy leveraging ideologies? How do we pray, or act? The first thing may be to recognize when what we’re hearing is propaganda and to combat it, if only in our own minds, with hard facts. Since data is inherently boring, I try to find information presented with great graphics, like those from INContext and Missiographics.

Some creative types use their art to humanize the data. Check out Hard Data, a five-minute video and music piece illustrating military data about casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jump in and watch from 8:50 to 10:10 to hear the artist describe this work (Flowing Data). Another great data visual about war is an interactive 15-minute piece, The Fallen of World War II (Neil Haloren). While the civilian and military deaths have gone down, the number of “other casualties” of conflict, refugees and internally displaced people, has risen steadily. See a New York Times visualization of the flight of refugees around the globe.

But back to holy wars and the utopian ideals that often drive them. Their appeal may be that they give hope to those who have none. Scripture calls hope, specifically “the hope set before us” as believers, the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:18-20). And take a look at the context: this hope is for “we who have fled for refuge.” We can keep praying for more of those seeking social change or simply seeking refuge to know such a hope!

INDIA: Holiday Wars

Source: World Watch Monitor, June 29, 2015

As you may have seen, June 21 was the first-ever International Yoga Day, observed from New Delhi to New York. In yoga’s birthplace, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself led a yoga session attended by 37,000 people in the heart of Indian capital. June 21 also was a Sunday, and that’s why several of India’s Christian organizations voiced their opposition—not to yoga itself, but to another big national event scheduled on a Christian holy day.

“It’s not that we do not welcome yoga, minus its (Hindu) religious connotation, since it has merits for mind exercise and relieving stress. However, the hype and overboard is just too much,” said [a senior Presbyterian church leader in the north-east of India and former leader in the National Council of Churches in India].

Yoga Day is the latest of several attempts by India’s government to hold high-profile events on Christian holy days. The government declared a nationwide observance of “Good Governance Day” on Christmas. It convened a national conference of judges on Good Friday. India’s education minister has said yoga would become part of the federal school curriculum, and a top official of one of India’s 29 states told a Catholic convention that Christians should start reciting Hindu mantras as part of their worship services.

» Read full story.

WORLD: Refugees, Crisis or Opportunity?

Source: Mission Network News, June 16, 2015

Amnesty’s 35-page report The Global Refugee Crisis: A Conspiracy of Neglect blames the world and its leaders for failing to “fix” desperate circumstances currently surrounding 50 million people.

“The global refugee crisis may be fueled by conflict and persecution,” part of the report reads, “but it is compounded by the neglect of the international community in the face of this human suffering.”

About two-thirds of the world’s refugees have been in exile for more than five years, many of them with no end in sight. Approximately 86% live in developing nations; Turkey, Lebanon, and Pakistan each host over one million refugees.

Outlining crises in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia, [Amnesty] calls for a “paradigm shift” in the way people view the global refugee crisis. It also blames the global community for refugee deaths.

“The current approaches to the world’s many refugee crises are failing—and the toll in lives lost and lives blighted is far higher than many armed conflicts.”

» Read full story.

» See also: The Global Refugee Crisis in Unprecedented and Getting Worse (VICE News), A Record Year in Misery: the World Has Never Seen a Refugee Crisis This Bad (Foreign Policy), the four-minute video Interview with a Refugee Pastor (IAFR), summaries of a Brookings panel on Europe’s Migration Crisis, the moving Diary of a Teenage Refugee (Tearfund), and Migrant Deaths Worldwide (Carnegie Council). Many refugees are coming from a country many people have never heard of: Eritrea. Read about why they are fleeing what has been called the “North Korea of Africa.”

LEBANON: Muslim Leaders Condemn Persecution of Christians

Source: Catholic News Agency, June 17, 2015

The leaders of four branches of Islam in Lebanon gathered earlier this month to issue a joint statement in the face of sectarianism and the rise of the Islamic State, denouncing attacks against Christians in the region.

“In the name of religious, humanitarian and national principles, the summit condemns religiously motivated attacks against Eastern Christians, including attacks against their homes, villages, property, and places of worship, when in fact the Prophet had recommended that they be respected, protected, and defended,” the participants said in a June 2 statement.

Such attacks, “like those suffered by other Muslims and non-Muslims belonging to other faiths and cultures, like the Yazidis, are tantamount to aggression against Islam itself,” they added, according to abouna.org, a site edited by Fr. Rif’at Bader, a priest of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The June summit included representatives of the Sunni, Shia, Druze, and Alawite communities.

» Read full story.

INDONESIA: Former Jihadist Starts Jesus Communities

Source: Joel News, June 23, 2015

Raharjo (not his real name) was a school drop-out on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi looking for work, when he was recruited by a jihadist organization. Like many young Muslim men, he was paid to attack Christian villages with the aim to force the Christians out of the area. However, as a result of the increased “war on terror” by the United States after the 9-11 attack, his group fell apart and he lost his job. Raharjo returned to Jakarta, traumatized and depressed. There he joined a punk group and started to use heroin.

One night Raharjo had a dream. A person who introduced himself as Jesus (Isa) spoke to him in “bright and strong language” and told him to “Follow me!” In the dream Raharjo decided to follow this person. When he woke up, he found himself healthy, sober, and without any desire to use drugs.

His newfound faith struck deep roots in Raharjo and changed him over time. He introduced all his gang members to his new Christian friends, and one after another began to take an interest in Jesus.

The method they used to “discover Jesus” was simple: they followed the instructions of the Quran to read the Gospels and also parts of the Old Testament. Questions that arose were answered cautiously. In this way the young men were able to discover their faith by themselves.

» Learn more or subscribe to Joel News.

» Readers might also be interested in a recent report from CBN News about Muslims turning to faith in Jesus in response to atrocities committed by Islamic extremists, though some of its claims seem a bit, well, extreme.

Resource Reviews

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_large

9046279700_e701593057_zImage from Tommyscapes / Flikr

In This Issue: Road-trip reading, Ramadan, and more

Dear Readers,

In a few weeks my husband and I plan to drive some 3,000 miles across the country to take up residence in Columbia, South Carolina. If Missions Catalyst slows down a bit during the transition, you’ll understand why! With such a long car trip ahead of me, I’m looking for podcasts and audio books to inspire and edify me along the way. Recommendations? Let me know!

History suggests that many Missions Catalyst readers will also be traveling in the next few months. Want a good read for the plane, train, car, or beach? The first item in this edition highlights some of our recent reviews and other finds and might give you some ideas.

Blessings,

BOOKS: Summer Reading Suggestions

Sources: Various

Got kids? Check out the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series, by Janet and Geoff Benge, to interest them in world missions. A growing number of these are now available as audio books. The Not-for-parents Travel Book: Cool Stuff to Know about Every Country in the World could also be a good choice for a long car ride. If you (or maybe your favorite cross-cultural worker) is taking little ones overseas, get a copy of Jim Jobe’s Hudson on a Mission.

Need encouragement? Where There Is Now a Church, by James Nelson, is one of several recent books describing the Christ-ward movements taking place in the Muslim world, though this little gem might get lost in the shadow of more widely promoted books like A Wind in the House of Islam and Miraculous Movements (which we also recommended). Find reviews of all three in our archives.

How about a mission biography? We recently wrote about Unbelievable, by Graham Bee. Elisabeth Elliot’s books are sure to be on many people’s re-read lists this year. And I just finished (and would recommend) Kay Bruner’s moving story, As Soon as I Fell.

The team I serve with at Pioneers likes to read and discuss books we think might be good picks for church mission leaders. We really liked Mission Smart: 15 Critical Questions to Ask Before Launching Overseas, by David L. Frazier and Finish the Mission, by David Mathis, John Piper, and others. David Horner’s When Missions Shapes the Mission: You and Your Church Can Change the World is no beach read, but it gave us plenty of food for thought and might do the same for you, as did Gospel Meditations for Missions.

» Share your suggestions with other readers on our website.

ARTICLE: Ramadan, an Opportunity

Source: SBC International Mission Board

With more than 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, you are likely to be around Muslims at work, at school, or in your community. Your attitude toward them could be a determining factor in their openness to the gospel. Will you take the opportunity of Ramadan to reach out to your Muslim neighbors?

Ten Practical Ways to Reach Out

  1. Prepare a bag of dates and nuts to pass out to Muslim neighbors right before sunset and introduce yourself.
  2. Visit a mosque in your city with a friend.
  3. Fast and pray each Friday throughout the month of Ramadan.
  4. Ask a Muslim neighbor or friend about Ramadan.
  5. Invite some international Muslim students from a local college or university to your house to break the fast one night.
  6. The “Night of Power” falls on July 13. Plan to stay awake through the night with other believers praying for Muslims.
  7. Prayerwalk a neighborhood that has a significant Muslim population.
  8. Go to an evening meal at a Muslim family’s house.
  9. Visit and eat at a Muslim-owned restaurant that is offering the evening meal.
  10. Make plans to connect with Muslims you have met after Ramadan.

» Read and/or share the rest of this article, an excerpt from RAMADAN: An Opportunity. Download the complete prayer guide to gain an understanding of what Muslims believe and learn how to effectively pray and share the gospel with them.

» See also the widely distributed 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World.

SURVEY: Effective Mobilization

Source: Launch Survey

Long-time mission mobilizer John McVay and a few others are exploring what it would take to effectively launch more people into long-term global service. They need our help!

If you are currently serving in an international, long-term mission capacity (or have done so in the past), would you be willing to participate in a survey about your journey to the field?

  • Questions are multiple choice or require brief answers.
  • The survey should take about 10 minutes.
  • The survey uses a secure website and avoids terminology that could endanger those serving in sensitive locations.
  • Participants can fill it out anonymously or provide an email address to get the survey results.

If you serve on a team or through a sending agency, could you invite your colleagues to take it too? Even if you aren’t serving overseas, please consider forwarding this email or sharing the link with others you know. Please contact johnmcvay@gmail.com if you have questions or comments.

Your participation could help raise up a new generation of global servants!

» To get started, just go to launchsurvey.org.