World News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn This Issue: Gains and gaps for the world’s women


My sleuthing this week yielded tons of news about women. This could be because March 8th was International Women’s Day and March is Women’s History Month in the US.

My task is to pick what might be relevant for you as you think about the task of “making disciples of all nations.” Some of these stories and statistics don’t have an obvious relation to spreading the Good News but may be noteworthy for us as we strategize for the future.

May the Spirit inspire new ideas and maybe nudge some to do a new thing as we face the challenges ahead!




WORLD: Gains and Gaps for the World’s Women

Source: various, via Pat Noble

Concerned about issues affecting the world’s women? Take a look at these stories in the news, coming from a variety of sources and perspectives.

Four stories about women pushing the boundaries:

For India’s Widows, a Riot of Color, an Act of Liberation (NPR)
Iranian Women Are Taking to Facebook to Protest against Compulsory Hijabs (VICE News)
Meet the Surfing Girls of Iran and read about the skateboarding school for girls in Afghanistan (MessyNessy)

Three stories about women in politics and government:

Ultra-Orthodox Women Enter Israel’s Election Race to Anger and Protest (VICE News)
Afghanistan: Don’t Leave Women Out of Peace Talks (Human Rights Watch)
Bagdad’s First Female Mayor Takes Office (Muftah)

Two stories about women in dangerous places:

Protecting Women and Children in the Line of Fire (Institute for Security Studies; will tell you the MOST dangerous place to be a woman)
One Woman’s Dream (Women Without Borders). This is an amazing story, and Women Without Borders, which covers human rights for girls and women worldwide, includes others that might interest you.

Finally, some global analysis; check out this interactive map that is full of information on the “gains and gaps” of progress for women over the last 20 years (No Ceilings).

IRAQ: Thirty Days of Prayer for ISIS

Source: Email from Praying Through the Arabian Peninsula, March 2015

PTAP would ask that we would pray for those suffering under the hand of ISIS and also pray for ISIS to be convicted of sin. Our continued battle is not with flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces that cause people to act with such evil. Download a 30-day prayer guide to pray for this situation. ISIS is affecting Syria and Iraq, but also the whole world. So please pray and seek his face during these times.

» Read full story, and also check out the new Pray for ISIS Members website.

» Also watch Freeing the Slave Women of ISIS (Journeyman Pictures) and read another story you might find this interesting, Calgary Imam Creates Fatwa against ISIS (Global News).

NIGER: Addressing Fear with Faith

Source: Mission Network News, March 13, 2015

Persecuted Christians in the West African country of Niger are “very upbeat” despite recent attacks in their country.

“We’ve only lost things,” they told IMB strategy leader, Greg Dorsey. “We’ve not lost the church, just some buildings.”

Dorsey expressed gratitude that recent violence at the hands of angry Muslims was targeted at buildings, not people.

“There is a sense that this is the time for the church, that…what was meant for evil, God intends for good,” he continued. Instead of seeking retaliation or revenge, even believers who lost their homes and possessions are confident that God is good and Jesus is still Lord.

“It was also encouraging to see that at least one public statement has been made by a representative of the evangelical churches in Niamey, where they publicly stated on radio and television that they forgave those who did all the damage and the burnings. That was pretty powerful.”

The attacks appeared to be well-planned and coordinated, as small mobs ransacked and burned more than 50 structures all over Niamey in less than four hours. Both missionaries and national believers found marks on their gates, indicating their homes were potential targets.

But stories abound of members of the Muslim community who warned their Christian friends and neighbors of impending danger, protected their homes while they were in hiding, and offered them shelter—all indications there was limited support for the group perpetuating the violence. Dorsey said some Christians feel their Muslim neighbors were ashamed of what was done in the name of Islam.

» Read full story.

» More good news from MNN: New Khmer Translation Opens Doors for Gospel.

CENTRAL EUROPE: Church Plant Starts with Pimps and Prostitutes

Source: Godreports, March 4, 2015

One day about two years ago, a lady who had heard of Maria’s ministry through her sister invited her to come and start a church in her village. “I did not know what type of people would come,” Maria remembers. “Some of the people we started to have were a few pimps and prostitutes.”

But Maria was not shocked. In fact, she had come in contact with a pimp in this village before. For a while, Maria had led a Bible study at his house, and he had asked her to pray for his business—but when she discovered what it was, she instead prayed for God to change his business. After a lot of arguments and prayers, he agreed to change jobs as long as he could earn enough money to provide for his family. Maria helped him secure a loan to start a livestock project and he is now happily employed in honest labor.

Since Maria had witnessed the change in this man’s life, she wasn’t shocked when she found out who made up her new congregation. “I just looked at them as normal people, people with messed-up lives—as almost all people have.”

Maria knew that most of her parishioners were men and women with no work and no education who got involved in this type of business because it was the easiest way to find money for their families and feed their children.

» Read full story.

INDIA: Hope and Healing for Abandoned Girls

Source: Charisma Magazine, March 5, 2015

For two baby girls in India, life almost ended in a public trash bin. That’s where their parents dumped them right after they were born. Noor and Parveen are girls—and in India, almost no one wants a girl. Girls are useless, not worthy of being educated, and on top of every other encumbrance, parents have to pay huge dowries when they marry. No wonder the greeting given to an Indian bride on her wedding day is, “May you be the mother of a hundred sons.”

Thankfully when Noor and Parveen’s parents dumped them in a public trash bin, Raja Kumar Undurthi, pastor of Mission Mobilization Church, heard their cries and rescued them. He brought them to Mordecai House, a Christian shelter where 33 girls now live. Every single one of the girls was abandoned by her parents, but here they receive healing from their past, education for their future, and encouragement to transform nations.

» Read full story, which profiles a ministry that rescues and empowers abused women. So far The Mordecai Project has initiated projects in Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, and India, with plans to expand.

» See also Exposing the Underbelly of Delhi’s Gang Rape Epidemic (Journeyman Pictures; 26-minute video).

IRAQ/SYRIA: Former Fighter Prays for the Islamic State

Islamic State Prayercast

Source: Prayercast, February 2, 2015

Up to 1.2 million people were displaced by the violence in Iraq in 2014 alone. Millions more live in fear. Massacres, beheadings, crucifixions, abductions, and sexual violence are rampant. Islamic State has attempted to eliminate entire Christian communities. As many as eight million people are believed to now live under the partial, or complete, control of IS.

This modern-day nightmare has not only darkened the landscape of Iraq and Syria, but the whole world, with over 11,000 people from abroad joining the ranks of the 30-50,000 Islamic State militants. Teaching an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam, they believe they are the only true believers and see the rest of the world as their enemy. Using violence to get what they want, their goal is the creation of an Islamic caliphate ruled by a single political and religious leader, ruling Muslim communities around the world.

Despite these gruesome realities, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but…against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). This is a spiritual battle against our adversary, the devil, who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

We hate the darkness and underlying evil, and we grieve the resulting bloodshed and pain. Yet Jesus still says, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). God’s love reaches not only those suffering under this oppression, but it reaches even into the ranks of Islamic State. Just as God transformed Saul into Paul through an encounter with Jesus, so can he transform today’s persecutors into tomorrow’s evangelists.

» Read full story and watch the related Prayercast video.

» See also two inspiring pieces: a video about an Iraqi Christian child extending forgiveness to those who displaced her family (SAT-7) and the story How Libya’s Martyrs Are Witnessing to Egypt (Christianity Today).

USA: Church Filled With Muslims Every Sunday

Source: Godreports, February 25, 2015

Pastor Adrian Rodriguez has been preaching the gospel, translated by his wife, to about 30 people every Sunday in a church on the outskirts of Hartford, Connecticut, and not one of the congregants is Christian.

“We’re dealing with very hardcore Muslims,” he says of the immigrant refugees from the Middle East who are drawn to his church. “They’re very indoctrinated. But God is speaking to their hearts.”

Pastor Adrian’s response to America’s burgeoning Muslim enclaves is perhaps Christianity’s best model: View them with eyes of compassion, not with eyes of suspicion.

» Read full story.

WORLD: Are Refugees the Problem?

Source: various, via Pat Noble

Three of the four gospel writers record that Jesus warned that in the last days, “nation shall rise up against nation.” For many years I assumed this meant political nations going to war as we saw in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Greek word translated nation, though, is the same as is used in the Great Commission of Mathew 28, which says “…go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”

While reading headlines for this edition I found many stories about “ethne rising up against ethne.” Take a look:

» Foreign Shop Owner Set Alight in South Africa (Al Jazeera)
» Cracking Down on Illegal Workers (Crossroads Arabia)
» Pakistan: Stop Forced Return of Afghans (Human Rights Watch)
» Two Charts Showing That “Deterring” Migrant Boats Is Failing (IRIN)
» What Would You Do if ISIS Was Approaching and Safety Was Only 70 Miles across the Sea? (The Independent)
» Afghan Refugee on National Geographic Cover Embroiled in ID Row and Vulnerable Families Bear the Brunt of Norway’s Crackdown on Asylum Seekers (The Guardian)