EUROPE: Nine Obstacles to Faith in the Former Communist Countries


Source: Pioneers in Europe, October 2016

Many [missionaries] serve in nations that are currently communist or have been communist within recent history. Current communist nations include China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, and North Korea. Previous communist nations in Europe include Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union.

What happens to a people group that has endured communism? What barriers does communism create for gospel receptivity? The list below was compiled with input from Pioneers [members] located around the globe, serving in nations that are currently or formerly communist.

  1. Communism creates a culture of secrecy.
  2. Under communism Christians often become desensitized to compromise.
  3. Communism [celebrates] the material world, science, and intellect.
  4. People who live or have lived under communism find the concept of grace very hard to digest.
  5. On the opposite side of the same coin, communism produces people who work to earn favor.
  6. In communist cultures leaders are not kind or trustworthy.
  7. Under communism the collective good of the people is considered far more worthwhile than the independence of individuals.
  8. People under communism are very afraid of the repercussions they will face if they believe.
  9. Missionaries often find life in communist or post-communist cultures very difficult and oppressive.

Pray for people groups around the globe who currently suffer under communism or have been raised under communism and have not yet shed its oppression. Pray that the God of grace would move hearts to believe and follow him, that his grace would be found sufficient for them (2 Corinthians 12:9), and that he would be exalted among the nations and in all the earth (Psalm 46:10).

» Read full story and see How Did the Church Survive? (Pioneers USA).

WORLD: Refugee Hoax Exposed

Source: INcontext Ministries, October 4, 2016

In September 2015, reports were published on social media stating that a furniture shipment that was supposed to go to refugee camps in Europe was actually filled with 52 tons of guns and ammunition. This was supposedly discovered by the Greek Border Securities.

Social media users pointed to a global conspiracy, which was supposedly the reason why the media never reported the incident. A question was posed about how long they will “continue with this charade,” and the claim was made that it would be until “they are being killed by these Arab hooligans.”

This email [like a version which resurfaced in September 2016] is false and constitutes an intentional effort to create suspicion and fear about refugees in Europe. Please forward [a link to this story] to anyone who sent you this email.

The accompanying pictures published were actually of Greek authorities seizing a freighter carrying an undeclared shipment of weapons en route from Turkey to Libya.

» Full story includes links to more information and the text of the email being circulated.

» You might also be able to use A Biblical View of the Refugee Crisis, a short video featuring IMB president David Platt.

GERMANY: Refugees Foil Terror Plot

Source: Missions Network News, October 16, 2016

Last week, three Syrian refugees in Germany helped capture a fellow refugee who was allegedly planning to bomb a Berlin airport. Investigators say the would-be bomber, Jaber al-Bakr, was likely an ISIS allegiant. His captors are being hailed as heroes.

Al-Bakr had been on the run for two days. Security forces raided his apartment and circulated the suspect’s photo on social media. According to USA Today, al-Bakr approached three fellow Syrian refugees at a train station and asked if he could stay at their apartment. One of the refugees, identified by German media as Mohamed A, said they took in al-Bakr because they recognized him and knew they had to turn him in. Mohamed A told German press, “I was so angry at him. I won’t accept such a thing—especially here in Germany, the country that opened its door to us.”

The three friends trussed up al-Bakr on their couch, refused his monetary bribes, and turned him over to the police. German authorities have issued public gratitude to the three men for taking a stand against terrorism. The suspect committed suicide in jail later in the week. Although Syrian refugees in Germany have left the war in Syria behind, the trauma still follows them.

» Read full story.

» Also read Life for Some Christians in German Refugee Shelters “Still Unbearable” (World Watch Monitor) and watch a video report about how a church in Macedonia is responding to the refugees passing through their country (SEND International).

PAKISTAN: Christian Woman’s Death Sentence Appeal Postponed

Source: BosNews Life, October 13, 2016

After waiting seven years in jail, Pakistan’s first Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy had her final Supreme Court appeal adjourned as angry Muslims packed the court room to demand her execution.

Aasiya Noreen, better known as Asia Bibi, who has been prison since the summer of 2009, was detained for allegedly insulting Islam’s prophet when she offered water to a Muslim co-worker and defended her faith in Jesus Christ.

Trial observers told BosNewsLife that one judge of the Supreme Court in Islamabad, Pakistan’s highest court, refused to be one of the three judges to decide on Bibi’s appeal because he had previously heard all details of a case against Mumtaz Qadri, who murdered the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, in January 2011.

Quadri said he killed the governor for demanding that Asia Bibi would be freed. The governor also called Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes “black laws” and called for reforms and a presidential pardon for Asia Bibi.

» Read full story and a related story from WorldWatch Monitor. On a more positive note, we are glad to hear that Iranian pastor Behnam Irani has been released. He has also been held in prison for seven years.

INDONESIA: Expanding Christ’s Kingdom on “The Island of Gods”

Source: Christian Aid Mission, October 6, 2016

On Indonesia’s island of Bali, Hindu villagers mix worship of myriad deities with service to Buddhist figures, ancestors and spirits; a potpourri of barriers to the gospel that the director of an indigenous ministry is well suited to overcome.

“I am an original Bali[an] who has a very rare opportunity to be able to serve and reach my brothers,” said the leader, whose name is withheld for security reasons. “This is an advantage for me to more easily reach them.”

Known as the “island of the gods” with its estimated 20,000 temples and shrines, Bali has a population that is more than 80 percent Hindu amid the predominantly Muslim archipelago of Indonesia. Though Islam is growing in Bali Province, Hindu/Buddhist belief mixed with animism, magic, and mythology permeates all aspects of most islanders’ lives.

Within this context, the kingdom of God has been growing in Bali through the indigenous organization’s service to the poor. While cultural knowledge is key to knowing how to relate to and nuance communications with villagers, the love of Christ is directly expressed through meeting felt needs.

» Read full story.

» See also The Power of Prayer: Good News for Hindus (IMB).

World News Briefs



Source: Wycliffe Bible Translators. In this video, recorded on the fiftiethanniversary of the completion of the Cakchiquel New Testament, Dr. Billy Graham talks about the significance of Bible translation and challenges listeners to become part of the work.

Today’s edition of Missions Catalyst News Briefs features several stories about breakthroughs and barriers in Bible translation and distribution. Read on and pray.

WORLD: 75 Years of Bible Translation

Source: Wycliffe Bible Translators, September 30, 2016

It all began in 1917 when William Cameron Townsend (known by friends as “Cam”) went to Guatemala to sell Spanish Bibles.

When Cam stepped off the boat, his youthful enthusiasm for sharing the gospel was high, but he soon realized that most of the people he was meeting didn’t understand the Bible in Spanish! Many of them spoke Cakchiquel instead.

Cam faced a dilemma. If they didn’t understand, how was he reaching people for Jesus? Frustrated and disappointed, Cam began to wonder if he’d failed. But God had others plans in mind.

Deep down, Cam thought everyone—man, woman and child alike—should be able to read God’s Word in the language of their heart. So although it would end up taking almost 10 years of his life, he learned the complex Cakchiquel language, created an alphabet and translated the New Testament.

When he was done, the Cakchiquel Indians finally had God’s Word, but thousands of other languages still needed it.

» Full story describes Cam Townsend’s journey to founding Wycliffe Bible Translators USA in 1942. Learn more about Wycliffe USA’s 75-year anniversary through a timeline, stories, and more.

KIRIBATI: New Translation Begun in 1988 Is Finished

Source: United Bible Societies, September 30, 2016

Praise God for the launch of the “Te Baibara—Te Rairai Ae Boou” (Kiribati New Version Bible or the Kiribati Contemporary Bible) on September 17 in Tarawa, Kiribati [in the South Pacific]. The project started in November 1988 with the translation of the New Testament.

The new features which may be regarded as adding value to the Kiribati New Version Bible help to make it more user-friendly for better reading and in-depth Bible study (including section headings, book introductions, cross-references, footnotes, illustrations, and more).

“It will take a while for the older generation to adjust to anything new, even the New Version. In my position as a pastor, the Kiribati New Version will help people to better understand the message of the Gospel for a transformed life. As they grow towards maturity they will move to the Kiribati Old Version for deeper study of the living Word of God.”

In 2015, Bible Societies assisted in the completion of translations in 50 languages spoken by nearly 160 million people.

» Full story also describes progress on Bibles in braille and sign languages.

» Also read about the completion of a Lubwisi New Testament for Uganda, a project fifteen years in the making (Mission Network News).

AZERBAIJAN: Bible Society Registers after 20 Years, But Will It Be Able to Print Bibles?

Source: World Watch Monitor, October 3, 2016

The recent registration of a Bible Society in Azerbaijan, after a 20-year fight, has brought fresh optimism to the country’s minority Christians, but there remains some confusion about the types of books it will be allowed to print, with even Bibles potentially falling foul of the country’s strict regulations.

Terje Hartberg from United Bible Societies called it “a great development, which will start a new chapter in Bible ministry for all Christians in Azerbaijan.”

However, all literature either printed or imported by the Bible Society will remain subject to approval by the government—with every publication labelled with an official sticker—and its distribution permitted only at state-approved venues.

» Read full story.

» Also see a story about neighboring Iran which describes that country’s church growth spurt (Mission Network News).

UZBEKISTAN: Punished for Religious Books at Home

Source: Forum18, September 29, 2016

A Baptist from Urgench [Urganch] in the north-western Khorezm Region has been punished for a second time within a year for having Christian books at home, which state officials regard as illegal. As this was a second punishment, Stanislav Kim was convicted under the Criminal Code, receiving a two-year corrective labor sentence.

A Presbyterian Christian in the capital Tashkent was fined in May for having religious literature at home. The Christian literature was ordered to be handed to the state-backed Muslim Board.

A criminal trial against him began in September for illegal use of computers.

In Surkhandarya Region, four Baptists were punished for religious literature confiscated during an illegal house search. Two Bibles, as well as other books and discs, were ordered destroyed. Officials claimed one book was banned because it could be used to spread a faith. They also claimed Baptists are banned in the region because they do not have state registration.

In Zarafshan, a Baptist pastor and his wife were fined for Bibles and Baptist song books seized from their home.

[These] eight individuals are among many punished for having personal religious literature in their homes. The authorities regard such possession of religious literature as illegal.

» Read full story.