World News Briefs

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Pioneers is giving hope to Syrian and Iraqi refugee families by providing food, blankets, and trauma counseling. Read more below.

In this issue: Building bridges, giving hope

  1. SYRIA: A Spiritual Shift
  2. NORTH KOREA: Black Market Dealers Turn Gospel Smugglers
  3. INDONESIA: Kingdom Minded Business
  4. USA: What Happens When 20 Christian Pastors Visit a Mosque for the First Time?

Dear readers,

“I didn’t know if I could survive the trauma and stress,” writes a Pioneers friend, Amanda, in Who Will Listen? It was 2010, and she was living in North Africa.

“One man in Tunisia burned himself alive to protest the unemployment rate. From there, unrest spread like wildfire in in the Arab world. Young and old took to the streets in protest of injustice, and violence often accompanied their efforts.”

As the stress of such an existence wore her down, Amanda was counseled to take a long rest away from the situation and found those who could help her recover and get counseling. But some do not have such an option. Consider, for example, Syrian refugees who have suffered the same kind of trauma and more.

“They leave home, country, family, financial stability, and even their ability to work and communicate. Who is there to welcome them when they arrive? Who can listen and give them counsel? Who is there to tell them the truth about the Jesus who loves them?”

“Just like I did, they need people to help them process what they have experienced,” says Amanda. “Though they do not have the financial or human resources to get counseling in their own language with people who understand their culture, we can help them get it.”

We’re glad to partner with colleagues at Pioneers as they work to provide physical and spiritual care to Syrian and Iraqi refugees and help families start to rebuild their lives and heal after enduring trauma caused by the war.

This issue of Missions Catalyst also includes another piece about God at work among Syrians and also several stories of Christians called to build cross-cultural bridges. Read on!

SYRIA: A Spiritual Shift

Source: Vision Beyond Borders, April 2016

Before civil war erupted in 2011, ninety percent of Syrians adhered to Islam and proselytizing was restricted. The government had cracked down on churches and Christian groups who tried to evangelize Muslims, arresting some and closing buildings that were used for Christian meetings. Now, many of Syria’s unreached have been uprooted and scattered. Nearly half the population is displaced. But the movement isn’t merely physical; a powerful shift is taking place spiritually, creating an unparalleled openness to the gospel.

The closed doors are now open in refugee camps, where many are hearing about their Savior for the first time. One worker explained, “You can’t share the gospel freely in Syria, so these people have never heard it before. In a short period of time, we’ve been able to share with the same number of Syrians that it would take us months and months to share with in Syria.”

Our contacts report an extraordinary trend in the number of Muslims they have seen coming to faith in Christ in recent years. “In 2013, we started seeing a marked increase, with at least one person coming to Christ just about every week…Then in 2014, it started going crazy… There were over 400 that came to Christ in 2014, and again over 400 in 2015!” A pastor who works with Syrian refugees noted: “God is at work in a special way.”

Among this influx of new believers are many refugees from areas that Islamic State controls… and where Christians would have never gone.

[One ministry reports] discipling several hundred new believers, and are impressed by the special way God is moving in their lives: “This group has been maturing quickly and many of them are even taking over discipleship groups. It’s been amazing growth, and we are harnessing this growth in order to mobilize Lebanese and Syrian missionaries to reach out for Christ around the Middle East and North Africa.”

» Read full story.

» See also an encouraging story about New Movements of Christ in Thailand (World Outreach International).

NORTH KOREA: Black Market Dealers Turn Gospel Smugglers

Source: Mission Network News, May 12, 2016

Before [Chinese couple “Bo and Annie”] became believers, Bo ran a cross-border business delivering and trading goods with a North Korean partner, “Ju.” The business relationship appeared successful until one day Bo discovered an anomaly in the financial records. Ju had been cheating him out of a great deal of money. In heated anger, Bo broke off the partnership.

A few years passed, and by God’s grace Bo and Annie came to be followers of Christ. They were fully committed to their new faith and began to attend a secret Chinese Bible school. During those intense times of studying God’s Word, they received their calling to disciple and train North Koreans to be undercover house church leaders.

They knew the dangers they faced if their ministry was discovered. But with Bo’s North Korean business connections, they also knew they had access to people many others couldn’t reach. The couple knew God was leading them to disciple Ju, the very man who had caused so much bitterness in Bo.

Shocked that the couple would reach out in peace to him after so many years, Ju agreed to meet with Bo and Annie. The consequences they faced if Ju decided to turn them in to the authorities were severe, but Bo and Annie began to reveal the reasons for their heart change through the Gospel message. They ended by telling Ju that they had forgiven him. The couple’s unprecedented kindness led Ju to repentance and he accepted Christ as his Savior.

Soon Ju began taking his own risks by sharing the Gospel with his family and extended relatives. In just three years, Ju led over 20 families to Jesus and the group met together regularly to worship in secret.

Bo and Annie began covertly bringing members of Ju’s underground church into China for intensive three-week Bible training and discipleship sessions. During the sessions, the new believers would memorize dozens of Bible verses. Many wrote the most critical elements of their lessons on small pieces of paper. On returning to North Korea, the papers were hidden in deep recesses of clothing so they would not be discovered should anyone be captured. These pieces of paper became precious spiritual food for the other church members awaiting their return.

» Read full story, which came from the ministry of Global Advance.

INDONESIA: Kingdom-minded Business

Source: Business as Mission, May 10, 2016

Kingdom Business Community (KBC) is a network for Christian business people in Indonesia. Describing itself as a marketplace ministry movement with “business as mission” concerns, it is one of the largest networks of mission-focused business people in the world.

KBC began in 2005 with six business friends from the same church who dreamed of catalyzing transformation on a national level through the practice of business. Ten years later, KBC has trained thousands of business people and hosts 30 training camps each year in five different regions around the country.

» Read full story. See also another story from Indonesia on this site, Muslim Village Transformed through Prayer, Business People, and Owls.

USA: What Happens When 20 Christian Pastors Visit a Mosque for the First Time?

Source: Preemptive Love Coalition, April 27, 2016

We had never met our Muslim hosts prior to visiting their suburban mosque. We had never met the pastors who chose to accompany us, either. We had no idea how the discussion would go.

One thing we’ve learned in our years of waging peace: talking with someone is always better than talking about them. So with the help of our friends at Peace Catalyst, we reached out to a Denver-area mosque. Without hesitation, the imam invited us to come—and to bring as many Christian leaders as we could.

We would later learn that our host, Imam ShemsAdeen, has a history of leaning into conversations like these, offering generous hospitality and welcome to anyone who is willing to engage.

On our ride to the Islamic center, we took a quick survey. Most of us (including myself) had never set foot inside a mosque before. Most of us did not have a single Muslim friend. In other words, we are a lot like our fellow Americans—nearly two thirds of whom do not know a Muslim personally.

» Read about what happened.

» See also The Muslim in My Attic (TallSkinnyKiwi). Next week’s Missions Catalyst will review a new book about this kind of peacemaking.

World News Briefs

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Missions Catalyst News Briefs 5.4.16

  1. BURKINA FASO: Celebrating the San Bible
  2. CHILE: Christian Churches Set Ablaze
  3. PACIFIC RIM: Mobilizing Pacific Islanders
  4. INDIA: Blacksmith Paid to Make Iron Crosses Learns Their Meaning
  5. WORLD: The Portable Gospel and a Portable Dental Chair

Greetings,

In our last edition of News Briefs, we lauded Jordan for being the most hospitable nation (most refugees as a percentage of their population). This week I read that this region is also a place where sex trafficking is big business. CryOut reports from Lebanon that a large ring has been dismantled by security forces. (Praise God)!

So often the news reminds me of Fortunately, a favorite children’s story that starts like this:

“Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.
“Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.
“Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.
“Unfortunately, the motor exploded.
“Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.
“Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.”

Although much of this week’s news goes back and forth, we have this: Fortunately, God’s story ends gloriously for those who know and love him!

Say with me, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Pat

Come Lord Jesus lyric video

Come, Lord Jesus (Lyric Video). Redemption City Church, Franklin, TN.

BURKINA FASO: Celebrating the San Bible

Source: United Bible Societies, April 18, 2016

“To have the whole Bible in San is for us a victory over the Enemy and over obscurantism. More and more Samo people (who speak San) are learning to read, and now they will be able to read God’s Word in their own language.”

These are the words of Thomas Traoré, President of the Eglise de l’Alliance Chrétienne (Church of the Christian Alliance) of Burkina Faso, at the publication of the first Bible in San—a language spoken by more than 230,000 people. The new Bible was dedicated in February, in Toma, Nayala Province, and was welcomed with great joy by the Christian community with prayers, singing, and dancing.

Work on translating the New Testament was started in 1982 by American missionary Richard Phillips and was later continued by the Bible Society and SIL. The New Testament was published in 1996, and work on the Old Testament began two years later.

“God speaks San and wants to talk to you in your language, so put your new Bible to good use,” [General Secretary of the Bible Society of Burkina Faso] Mr. Dramane Yankiné told the gathering of Samo Christians, urging them to use it as a tool to build their faith and to improve their literacy skills.

“The translation of the Word of God is in accord with the Spirit of Pentecost, when the apostles spoke in the mother tongues of the people around them,” he noted. “There is no sacred language in which God communicates; God speaks to each person in his or her language in order to be understood.”

» See full story with pictures.

» You might also enjoy reading about encouraging developments with access to the Bible in the West Africa’s Wolof language (SIM). On the other hand, please pray for Christians in Uzbekistan recently imprisoned and tortured, apparently for illegal possession of Christian literature (Forum 18 News Service).

CHILE: Christian Churches Set Ablaze

Source: Worthy News, April 11, 2016

Last month two churches in Chile were set ablaze by supporters of the Mapuche—a Chilean movement that seeks to rid the region of religions contrary to their own indigenous beliefs.

According to International Christian Concern, the church attacks were two of five other arsons that occurred within 24 hours.

In the first attack, the Catholic Church of Santa Joaquina in the commune of Padre Las Casas was torched. Hours later an evangelical church—the Christian Union in Antinao—was also set afire. A pamphlet found at the site read: “We are going to burn all churches” and demanded that all Mapuche political prisoners be released.

» Read full story. See also related stories in Christian Times and Reuters.

» Readers might also be interested in an ASSIST News Service story about the Gathering of Nations, a native-American event that brings together 700 North American tribes (and some committed to native American ministry).

PACIFIC RIM: Mobilizing Pacific Islanders

Source: SIM, April 22, 2016

The Pacific Island communities in New Zealand and the Pacific are beginning to rise up and go into the nations, proclaiming the gospel, demonstrating God’s love and power. We are seeking to journey with this nascent movement, Pacific2Nations, to mobilize the church to longer-term involvement in cross-cultural mission.

Please pray for:

  • The teams and individuals receiving Kairos training and beginning to explore overseas mission opportunities.
  • Pastors to continue to open their eyes to the need and the call and encourage their people to be involved in overseas mission.
  • Many more Pacific Islanders to accept the challenge to be involved in God’s mission to the nations.

» Read full story and pray for the next Pacific2Nations event, near Sydney, Australia, May 27-28. Live near there? Check it out. It’s free.

INDIA: Blacksmith Paid to Make Iron Crosses Learns Their Meaning

Source: God Reports, May 2, 2016

He was the only blacksmith in his village in India, making plows and other farming instruments. He usually was paid with food and rarely received cash from other villagers.

One day something surprising happened. “Two people from the Baptist Church came to my village and asked me to make two dozen iron crosses for their church,” Ballipati Barburao told Final Frontiers Foundation.

They also gave him some Christian tracts about the greatness of Jesus Christ and asked him to read the material and pass it out to his family and neighbors.

When Ballipati read the tract, he was confused. “I went to the Baptist Church to give the iron designs and I asked the pastor to explain about Jesus,” he recounts.

As the two men talked further the pastor explained the gospel to him. Suddenly he understood the true meaning of the crosses he fashioned in the fire. The Holy Spirit convicted Ballipati of his sins and his need for repentance. Then God planted a seed of believing faith in his heart.

“I was absolutely impressed by the preaching and then I confessed my sins and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior,” he says.

The Holy Spirit filled him with a boldness to witness. “From that moment I became a preacher,” Ballipati says, but it was not without a cost.

» Read more about Ballipati’s challenges and how he was delivered through them.

» For a story with a different ending, read a stirring tribute to  Pastor Han, martyred a few days ago after a many years of ministry to North Koreans (Voice of the Martyrs Korea). You may have also heard about two US missionaries just killed in Jamaica.