Missions Catalyst News Briefs

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In This Issue: Release for the captives

Peyangki in the city.

Image from The Himalayan Boy and the TV Set (BBC)

Greetings!

This week yielded an unusual number of stories with happy endings, including charges dropped and captives set free or escaped. A human rights activist was even freed in Burundi. Burma agrees to repatriate Royingya refugees in Bangladesh and released more than 100 child soldiers from the army.

While there seems to be a season of release for the captives (Isaiah 61:1), why not pray for whole groups of people enslaved spiritually? See the new BBC documentary, The Himalayan Boy and the TV Set (72 minutes) and pray for the Buddhists of Bhutan and the changes coming to the Himalayan peoples. If you are inspired to touch the lives of children in the Himalayas, read about a literacy project among orphans in Nepal.

Can you use some good news this week? Read on.

Rejoicing,
Pat

Pat

Pat Noble has been the “news sleuth” for Missions Catalyst since 2004. In addition to churning out the news, she is working to create a SWARM (Serving World A Regional Mobilizers) in Northern New York using the NorthernChristian.org website. You can connect with her at www.whatsoeverthings.com.

AFGHANISTAN: Answer to Prayers for the Pashtun

Source: Godreports, October 8, 2014

Last year the U.S. Center for World Mission began equipping thousands of churches in Latin America to pray for the Pashtun, one of the biggest least-reached people groups in the world.

The Pashtun number over 30 million and the Taliban are included within this ethnic group in Afghanistan. “If you are wondering whether prayer really makes a difference, in this particular case, we have the proof,” says David Taylor, with the U.S. Center.

A Christian radio ministry had been broadcasting for years to the Pashtun and were receiving about 60 responses to their program each month. “As soon as thousands of churches in Latin America began praying for the Pashtun, this radio program began receiving hundreds and then thousands of responses each month,” Taylor exclaims. “Like the Bible story of the disciples whose nets could not handle all the fish, this ministry is now asking for help from others to handle this unexpected interest in the gospel!”

Some of the churches praying for the Pashtun are located in El Salvador. In one of these Salvadoran churches, a man was dying of HIV-AIDS. “He decided to come to the Wednesday prayer meeting which was focused on the Pashtun,” Taylor recounts. “As he was praying for them he felt the Holy Spirit come upon him and move throughout his body. He felt as though he had been healed. The next day he went to the doctor to have his blood checked. When the nurse came back with the results, she was beaming. His blood was completely clean of HIV!”

Taylor sees a valuable lesson for believers here. “When we bless the nations, God blesses us in return. This is the principle we see in Psalm 67: ‘May the peoples praise you O God, may all the peoples praise you! Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God will bless us.’”

» Full story with pictures.

PAKISTAN: Blasphemy Charges Dropped

Source: Barnabas Fund, October 13, 2014

Charges against 55 Pakistani Christians who were falsely accused of blasphemy have been dropped after a written compromise was agreed between the Muslim accuser and the believers involved.

The accusation of blasphemy was made against a group of Christians in a small village in Tehsil Samandri district, Faisalabad, on September 3 following a dispute with a gang of Muslims over the use of land for a graveyard. Thirteen Christians, including a 12-year old boy, were arrested; they have now been released.

The Christians were originally charged under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which refers to defiling the name of Muhammad and carries the death penalty. Remarkably, following the intervention of Barnabas-funded Christian lawyers, this charge was later overturned in a rare move by police.

» Read full story.

» Also read Iran Drops Death Sentence against Pastors and Laos Releases House Church Christians (BosNews Life).

IRAQ: Syrian Christian Hostages Free

Source: WorldWatch Monitor, October 13, 2014

The last of a group of 20 Syrian Christians kidnapped October 5 have been released as their pastor awaits trial before an Islamic court.

Rev. Hanna Jallouf, a Franciscan priest in the northeastern Syria town of Knayeh, was abducted with about 20 other Christians. The town, in Idlib province, is eight kilometers from the Turkish border, an area where al-Nusra Front and other rebel groups have been fighting the Syrian army for three years.

Citing Franciscan administrators in the region as well as “local sources,” the Vatican news agency Fides reported October 7 that Jallouf and “several men of the Christian village” had been abducted. Several children were reported to be among the abductees. Three Franciscan nuns who run a youth center and dispensary in the village were inside the St. Joseph Convent at the time of the kidnappings and escaped capture.

» Read full story.

» See also Kurdish School Children Released by Islamic Militants (AINA) and Boko Haram Frees 27 Hostages Says Cameroon Government (The Guardian).

MALI: Christians Return Home

Source: Barnabas Fund, September 26, 2014

Many Christians who were driven from northern Mali by Islamist rebels have begun to return to their homes in the region, which was liberated by French troops in early 2013.

Upon arriving in their communities, Christians have found that their churches were looted and desecrated by the al-Qaeda-linked Islamists. The cities of Timbuktu and Gao were left with no churches intact.

Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim Yattara, president of the Baptist Church in Mali, told World Watch Monitor that properties and vehicles belonging to Christians were also damaged and that an important community water project set up by a church in Timbuktu was all but destroyed by the Islamists. The substantial cost of rebuilding churches and infrastructure will be a heavy burden for Christians who have returned with very little.

» Read full story.

NIGERIA: Pastor Escapes Boko Haram in Deluge

Source: Godreports, October 13, 2014

He was held for 10 months by Boko Haram, the same Islamist group that has terrorized northern Nigeria and kidnapped some 300 schoolgirls. But God brought a downpour of heavy rain and a flood to wash away his captors and secure his escape.

Rotimi Obajimi, pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, was kidnapped January 6, 2014 as he traveled from his rural church toward Maiduguri, according to a story by the Sahara Reporters.

The radical group took him to Sambisa Forest, a former game preserve filled with leopards and lions that has become a haven for Boko Haram. It is suspected the group is holding the Nigerian schoolgirls in the same area.

Pastor Obajimi was tied up for months in the forest, while many in his church prayed fervently for his freedom.

During the first week of October heavy rains began. It was a deluge so strong that the camp began to flood. Because of the flooding, his captors deserted the camp and Pastor Obajimi managed to free himself.

For days he walked through the dense forest before he finally wandered into a village October 7, where soldiers picked him up. He was treated at Maimallari Hospital and debriefed by the military before he was allowed to return to Maiduguri.

“We were so amazed to see him because we have been praying earnestly for a long time trusting Jesus that he would surely come back but lo and behold he was brought to our headquarters in Maiduguri by the military,” a pastor from the Redeemed Christian Church told Sahara Reporters.

» Read full story.

» Read about another escapee and learn about Russia’s hidden workers: the slaves of Dagestan (The Guardian).

Missions Catalyst News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn This Issue: How (and why) not to be ignorant about the world

RoslingsDear readers,

I highly recommend that you watch and share the TED talk, How Not to Be Ignorant about the World, in which a father-son team explain biases and give helpful tips for a healthier, more accurate perspective on the world. Ola, the son, talks about how we often see causation where there is none. This reminded of me a humorous list of bizarre correlations I’d seen, and then I found a whole website devoted to churning out these weird stats. Did you know that if you consider yourself hairier than most you are more likely to drink Mountain Dew?!

Assumed causation is a serious matter, though, and can cost lives. See the story below about what happened to Ebola workers in Guinea. Some readers might also be interested in Karen Armstrong’s recent article on the myth of religious violence (“The popular belief that religion is the cause of the world’s bloodiest conflicts is central to our modern conviction that faith and politics should never mix. But the messy history of their separation suggests it was never so simple”).

I believe our greatest incentive to be well informed is for intercession. There is a true correlation between prayer and events; we may not have empirical evidence of this, but we have the promises of God. This week we join Christians who are praying for an end to Ebola, and others interceding for Hindus during their Navratri festival (see below).

Many are also praying for Muslims on the Hajj pilgrimage and Jews observing the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur (October 3-4). When I pray for people of other faiths during times of repentance and cleansing, sometimes I pray through the lyrics of the song Rock of Ages, changing the “I” and “me” to “they” and “them.” Try it this week and think of the millions of Muslims circling the rock in Mecca and those Jews who have “rejected the stone.”

Praying with you for the sons of Abraham (and others),
Pat

P.S.: Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International, quoted in one of our recent news briefs, said one of you was trying to reach him after reading our story. He accidentally deleted your email. Try again!

Pat

Pat Noble has been the “news sleuth” for Missions Catalyst since 2004. In addition to churning out the news, she is working to create a SWARM (Serving World A Regional Mobilizers) in Northern New York using the NorthernChristian.org website. You can connect with her at www.whatsoeverthings.com.

IRAQ: A Child’s Prayer

Source: SAT-7, September 29, 2014

The takeover of several Iraqi towns by extremist group ISIS (or Islamic State) has been devastating in recent weeks. Children in particular are sensitive to such tragedies. Mario, a regular fan of the SAT-7 KIDS program “Why Is That,” called the studio last week to pray for Iraq and all the Arab countries.

The young boy called from his home in Tanta, just north of Cairo in Egypt. As soon as Mario’s voice came over the air, presenter “Mr. Know” recognized him. Even though Mario lives hundreds of miles away from Iraq, he is touched by the plight of families suffering there.

The innocence and goodwill of a child’s prayers are an uplifting witness during such trying times. They give hope that God can use the next generation to shape a different future for the region according to his will.

» Read full story and listen to Mario’s prayer.

» Also read Informed Intercession: The Wonderful Marriage of Research + Prayer (Mission Frontiers) and inspire others to pray by sharing answers to prayer (Catalyst Services).

» Check out amazing footage on the Islamic State (VICE News).

SAUDI ARABIA: Millions Head toward Mecca

Source: Prayercast, September 28, 2014

Roughly three million people will descend on Mecca, Saudi Arabia from October 1-6 for the largest annual pilgrimage in the world: the Hajj. This journey is the life-long aspiration of one-fifth of the world’s population, and, when accomplished, is the spiritual climax of their lives. Being the fifth pillar of Islam, this pilgrimage and its accompanying rituals are supposed to increase Muslims’ chances to attain paradise and forgiveness. The Hajj represents an opportunity to be reborn.

Millions will circle the Ka’bah and perform countless rituals, seeking answers, assurance, and absolution from a god who cannot hear and will not answer. May Muslims on this year’s Hajj encounter the Living God through his son Jesus Christ, and may countless masses be truly born again by the power of the cross.

» Subscribe to updates from Prayercast.

» Download a video and prayer materials about the Hajj from Praying through the Arabian Peninsula, and see ISIS Threatens Mecca (WIN Reporter), Taking the Hajj to Heaven (Crossroads Arabia), and a story about breakthroughs in Christian broadcasting in Saudi Arabia (Arab World Media).

GUINEA: Ebola Team Members Killed over Tragic Misunderstanding

Source: ASSIST News Service, September 25, 2014

Rev. Moise Mamy and seven others in an Ebola education delegation were killed by villagers in southern Guinea [in mid-September]. According to a news release from Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA), government officials and news reporters were also among those who died.

Wome [where this happened] is located in Guinea’s forestière region—a densely forested, mountainous and resource-rich area where villagers have long settled their own affairs.

CAMA said Mamy was a member of the Eau de Vie (Water of Life) Ebola awareness team, a ministry of CAMA, the relief and development arm of The Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA). In addition, Mamy was an evangelist and district superintendent of the CMA church among the Mano, the people group of his ethnic origin. CAMA said he was also the executive secretary of Eau de Vie and cofounder of Hope Clinic, a CAMA-initiated medical and surgical facility that provides treatment for villagers in southern Guinea who otherwise would have no access to medical care.

“Many places accepted (the awareness team’s) teaching,” wrote Jon Erickson, an Alliance international worker and close friend of Mamy, with whom he cofounded Hope Clinic, “but some villagers had heard a rumor that the (bleach they were distributing), which kills the Ebola virus, was actually the virus itself.”

In the ensuing chaos, the team members were attacked and killed. The BBC reported that the bodies were recovered from a septic tank at the local primary school.

Mamy is survived by his wife and five grown children.

» Read full story.

» Our friends at SIM have called Christians to pray all this week for an end to Ebola. Learn more. And this just in, free educational resources in French and English available to ministries working in Ebola-affected countries (Women of Hope International).