Missions Catalyst News Briefs


In This Issue:

  1. AFGHANISTAN: Election Crisis
  2. MIDDLE EAST: Media Fueling Terror Threats
  3. WORLD: Bad News, Good News
  4. LAOS: Five Christians Accused of Murder Found Not Guilty
  5. YEMEN: Woman Burned to Death for Her Faith

Dear readers,

Lately I have been thinking about influencers and other leaders and those they recruit and lead.

You have probably heard about the foreign fighters in Syria (Your Middle East). Take a peek into the life of a Tajik recruit (Inter Press Service). Use it as fuel for prayer!

We are often told to pray for our leaders (those in authority). A kingdom worker in the Republic of Congo had an amazing sovereign appointment with one. See also 10 Muslim Leaders You Need to Know to Better Understand the Spiritual Battle (InContext Ministries).

Pray, too, for Afghanistan. September 2 was to have been the inauguration of the first democratically elected president. The UN has delayed the audit of a disputed election in that country, see story below, and pray for Afghanistan and its future leaders. Lebanon is also currently without a president, a situation that has increased a sense of insecurity for that nation’s Christians.

When I think of influencers, my thoughts naturally turn to newscasters and media. Some of today’s news pundits seem nothing more than what I call secular preachers, but journalists can be a different breed. Eddie Arthur expresses my own feelings in his blog post In Praise of Journalists. I wonder if he read about Ilgar Nasibov, the Azeri journalist beaten unconscious (Note: graphic image). If you’d like to pray for journalists, check out the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In the battle with you,


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: Election Crisis

afghanistan-homeSource: Email from Prayercast, August 31, 2014

Currently overshadowed by other situations in the Middle East, the nation of Afghanistan faces a mounting crisis. Results from June’s election remain contested with claims of fraud on both sides. Tensions are high as this fragile nation stands on the brink of an outbreak of further violence. With over 30 years of continuous war and upheaval, Afghanistan desperately awaits true peace.

Known as the world’s most dangerous place for a child to be born, Afghanistan is a nation that has seen much suffering. The Taliban’s removal brought an increased freedom to a broken nation, but the wounds remain deep. With more than 48,000 mosques covering the countryside, 99.9% of Afghanis are Muslim. Yet God is moving mountains to draw them to himself! Twenty years ago only dozens claimed Christ; today there are believed to be several thousand.

» Pray for Afghanistan.

MIDDLE EAST: Media Fueling Terror Threats

Source: Mission Network News, August 29, 2014

More threats are coming out of radical Islam. Middle East expert with E3 Partners Tom Doyle says we need to be careful what we believe. “Lots of it is false. Lots of it is to tie up the government. Lots of it is to produce fear in the hearts of people. Look at the obsessive news coverage that we’re seeing. These guys are pretty savvy with media.”

Doyle points to the James Foley murder as an example of that. “Everything was rehearsed and scripted. To be able to be put out and tied to Guantanamo Bay, the way he was dressed and with an English-speaking Muslim. All of that is done to just show fear.”

It reminds him of the Assyrian Empire, who did the same thing. Entire villages would kill themselves knowing the Assyrians were coming.

Doyle points to another example. “This week there was an e-mail going around saying the Christians were being lined up and being beheaded. That didn’t happen. Someone put that out. We need to be careful. Christians shouldn’t live in a state of fear, but we need to be prepared.”

» Read full story.

WORLD: Bad News, Good News

Source: Erich Bridges, International Mission Board, August 26, 2014

The cascade of grim global headlines overwhelmed a friend of mine recently. He announced that he couldn’t take it anymore — at least until tomorrow.

“I don’t know why I care,” he wrote. “I don’t know why I bother. I check the news. Bad. All bad. Unless the news is horrible, it’s bad. Why care? Why bother? Why not just play ‘Angry Birds’ and pretend it doesn’t affect me? It sounds easier.”

Despite his frustration and discouragement, I know he won’t stop reading, watching, caring, and praying. He’s an intelligent and compassionate young man, for one thing. He’s concerned about world affairs. He makes a point of keeping up with what’s happening and tries to understand it.

Another young person I know returned recently from a youth mission trip to Amsterdam, the Dutch capital. She and the group arrived there the same week in July that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew. Two-thirds of the passengers were Dutch. People on the streets of Amsterdam were just beginning to experience the shock of the tragedy as the youth team walked through the city and distributed more than 6,000 copies of the Gospel of John.

Some people they encountered rejected the small gifts of truth. But many accepted it — many more than the Amsterdam-based Christian worker helping the young people expected — and they began reading it. Perhaps they were looking for something to hold onto, something to hope in.

» Read full article.

» Read also these articles about our world: World’s Top Church-Destroying Countries (Christianity Today) and a report from InContext Ministries about how the influence of various countries is viewed, positively or negatively, by the rest of the world. And see this great, concise piece from Asia Harvest, God’s Solution to Terrorism. Part one addresses the “real cause of global terrorism.” Look for part two in next month’s Asia Harvest newsletter.

LAOS: Five Christians Accused of Murder Found Not Guilty

Source: Barnabas Fund, August 21, 2014

A group of Christians in Laos who were falsely accused of murder have been found not guilty. The believers, who remain in custody, were arrested after a sick woman sought prayer at her local church, converted to Christianity, and later died. The five Christians, four of whom are church leaders, have been detained since June 24.

The accusations came after Mrs. Chan, a convert to Christianity, passed away on June 21. Mrs. Chan had been suffering from an unidentified illness for two years, and local Christians prayed for her recovery. After her health initially improved, Mrs. Chan and her eight children became Christians and began attending church. Mrs. Chan’s health then deteriorated further, and she died on the way home from hospital.

Mrs. Chan’s sons and daughters wanted a Christian burial for their mother. When the village authorities prevented this from going ahead, Mrs. Kaithong, the leader of the Saisomboon church, appealed to the district chief. The five believers were then arrested, initially over the burial dispute, and later charged with murder. Buddhist leaders stepped in and conducted Mrs. Chan’s funeral service against her family’s wishes.

» Read full story.

» Interested in East Asia? We’ve been following stories about Christianity in China. See China Plans Establishment of Christian Theology (China Daily) and Why Is China Nationalizing Christianity? (The Diplomat), as well as China Removed More than 200 Crosses (Worthy News).

YEMEN: Woman Burned to Death for Her Faith

Source: Morning Star News, August 29, 2014

On the morning of June 9 in southern Yemen, Saeed woke to the sound of screaming. He shot out of bed, pushed panicked family members aside and saw his wife stumbling out of their kitchen, engulfed in flames.

His wife, Nazeera, had been preparing breakfast at about 9 a.m. when she poured liquid from a cooking oil bottle into a hot pan. The liquid flashed, and the bottle exploded. While her four children watched, screaming, Nazeera was being burned alive.

“I rushed out of the room,” Saeed told Morning Star News, weeping. “I couldn’t even speak to ask her what happened. All I could think about was putting the fire out and then getting her to the hospital. But my 16-year-old son, he couldn’t stop himself and held on to her, hugging her while she was burning. He got hurt, and I had to pull him away from her.”

About two weeks later, Nazeera, 33, died as a result of her burns. When Saeed returned to his home in a village after her death, a relative told him the unthinkable – members of both his family and hers had taken the vegetable oil out of the bottle and replaced it with gasoline. Saeed knew the reason – many years ago, the two had become Christians and refused to return to Islam.

» Read full story.

Missions Catalyst News Briefs


In This Issue:

  1. EDITOR’S NOTE: Taking Risks
  2. LIBERIA: Ebola Giving Christ Center Stage
  3. NIGERIA: Market Price for a Christian’s Life
  4. UKRAINE: Christians Captured and Killed
  5. MIDDLE EAST: Children at Risk
  6. SAUDI ARABIA: Is God at Work?
For additional news, see our Twitter feed.

Dear readers, 

I’ve been thinking about risk: those at risk, those who take risks, and those for whom life has become too risky. You may have heard our local story about the Amish girls kidnapped and miraculously released. This happened about 10 miles from my home. Then there are the girls still missing in Nigeria, the Christian and Yazidi women and children in Iraq, and many in Gaza and Syria. What about the children who risk all to cross a border because life in their home country is far worse? How do we “think Christianly” about this?

Also hotly debated in the news are those who take risks, like missionaries that get Ebola, saints like the Vicar of Bagdad, and those that run to the battle.

I once heard it said that the risk ratio is the wrong number to look at if we wish to quantify risk. Rather, we should measure what might be gained by taking that risk. This way of quantifying risk is more useful when deciding if a risk is good or bad. John Piper says it better in his book, Risk Is Right:

“There are a thousand ways to magnify Christ in life and death. None should be scorned. All are important. But none makes the worth of Christ shine more brightly than sacrificial love for other people in the name of Jesus.”




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.

LIBERIA: Ebola Giving Christ Center Stage

Source: Mission Network News, August 11, 2014

It’s now being called a “public health emergency of international concern.” We’re talking about Ebola. While you may not think it’ll affect you, the World Health Organization (WHO) made that statement to wake you up to the problem. WHO says Ebola took an additional 29 lives between Tuesday and Wednesday alone. Their report indicates Ebola has killed 961 people and sickened 1,779 others. This makes it the worst outbreak in history.

Two U.S. citizens, medical missionaries with SIM International Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, have been brought to United States for treatment.

In a statement release by Dr. Brantly, he said, “We went to Liberia because we believe God called us to serve him at ELWA Hospital. One thing I have learned is that following God often leads us to unexpected places. When Ebola spread into Liberia, my usual hospital work turned more and more toward treating the increasing number of Ebola patients. I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them. I witnessed the horror firsthand, and I can still remember every face and name.”

Since these Americans have contracted the disease, [SIM USA President Bruce] Johnson says doctors have responded by volunteering to go to Liberia to serve. “It’s that kind of sacrificial spirit that’s been such an encouragement to me, and I think really has been an encouragement to the whole church to see the sacrifice and willingness of our brothers and sisters to do that.”

Johnson says he could never have imagined being in the middle of this international media firestorm. SIM has been on many major television and radio networks. “We feel God is saying, ‘Express my glory through this,’ both in testimony as well as to help the U.S. government and other governments.”

» Read full story.

» See also Why Missionaries Put Their Lives on the Line (CNN

NIGERIA: Market Price for a Christian’s Life

Source: Jubilee Campaign

Seven suspected Boko Haram men alleged to have masterminded the attack on Ekklizivar Yan’uwa A Nigeria (EYN) Church in Biu, Borno State recently said they were paid N7, 000 [Nigerian Naira, local currency] each to carry out the attack which left no fewer than three worshipers dead.

One of the seven suspects, Ibrahim Mohammed Babangida, who spoke with journalists from his custody said one Magaji Bala, a butcher paid him to carry out the dastardly act.

“I was sleeping in my house when Magaji called me and handed over N7,000 to me for the operation,” he said, even as one of the suspects also corroborated the claim. The suspects told newsmen in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, yesterday that they were butchers by profession in Biu Market and were picked up in their different houses in Biu by the JTF operatives.

The suspects also claimed to hail from Jigawa and Katsina states, adding that they came to Biu, about 187 kilometers to Maiduguri and South of Borno, to eke a living.

So how much is 7000 Naira? It is about US$45. That is how much the life of a Christian in Nigeria is worth these days.

» Read full story.

» See also a Jubilee Campaign interview with one of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria (YouTube) and read Boko Haram Terrorists Find Salvation (WIN Reporter).

UKRAINE: Christians Captured and Killed

Source: ASSIST News Service, August 7, 2014

Four young volunteers with Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) who were recently captured by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine were brutally beaten to death simply for being Christians, according to a report from the organization last week.

“These men volunteered for FEBC with zeal, passionately helping to spread the Gospel throughout Ukraine,” the organization reported. We are deeply saddened and shocked.”

According to a report from National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), just weeks prior to this horrific tragedy, FEBC’s Eastern Ukrainian broadcast tower in Slavyansk – that for months has been in the middle of the fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian central government – was shot down and completely destroyed.

While FEBC is still broadcasting in Western Ukraine and reaching millions there, they are now looking for a new location to resume broadcasting to Eastern Ukraine.

“We are doing everything we can to give hope to people in a seemingly hopeless situation, but more than ever, we are desperate for your prayers and for God to move in the lives of the people of Ukraine,” the ministry shared last week.

“Please pray for those who continue to serve and risk their lives every day to see the gospel go forth. Pray for peace in Russia and Ukraine.”

» Read full story.

» Also watch the video In the Midst, about Ukrainians finding new life in Christ, and read several related stories, including Crisis Draws a Nation Back to God (Commission Stories).