World News Briefs

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Missions Catalyst News Briefs 9.21.16

  1. PAKISTAN: Christian Boy, 16, Arrested for Kaaba Blasphemy
  2. USA: Nabeel Qureshi Battling Cancer
  3. SUDAN: Christians on Trial Need Prayer
  4. BURUNDI: Risen from the Dead
  5. WORLD: Help Influence Urban History

Greetings,

I came across the testimony of former atheist David Wood a while back. It was so disturbing I didn’t get past the eight-minute mark. (For a shorter version, see the CBN piece Psychopathic Atheist Turns to Jesus.) I recently discovered that this same man led Muslim-born apologist and author Nabeel Qureshi to Christ (see below). That was enough to motivate me to take another look at Wood’s story.

As I’ve urged my husband many times, don’t quit a movie at the darkest part and deny yourself the “good stuff” to come (assuming the movie was recommended by a trusted source).

This week’s news is kind of like that: things we don’t like to hear, but that may open the way for later stories of redemption. Please read on.

Waiting with you for the rest of the story,
Pat

Need something to lift you right now? Watch Revelation Song in 14 Languages (from TeenStreet 2016, OM’s international youth congress). It provides a glimpse of the united diversity that awaits us in Heaven.

teenstreet-image

PAKISTAN: Christian Boy, 16, Arrested for Kaaba Blasphemy

Source: World Watch Monitor, September 20, 2016

A 16-year-old Christian boy has been accused of committing blasphemy by “liking” and sharing a post on Facebook which “defamed and disrespected” the Kaaba in Mecca, the building at the center of Islam’s most sacred mosque.

Most of the Christians in the boy’s village have since fled their homes for fear of an angry backlash against them.

At around 3pm on Sunday [September 18], several police vans raided Nabeel Masih’s house in Dina Nath village, in the Kasur district of Punjab province, 30 miles southwest of Lahore. There are at least 300 Christian homes in the village.

The complainant, Akhtar Ali, filed this accusation at the nearby Phoolnagar Police Station: “On September 18, I was with my friends Bakht Khan and Saddam… We took our friend Waqar’s mobile phone and started seeing pictures of his various friends on Facebook. But when we opened Nabeel Masih’s profile, there was a picture posted in which the Kaaba is defamed and disrespected. Seeing that picture, our religious feelings were hurt.”

» Read full story.

» For another (even more heartbreaking) story of a teen victim, see Morocco: Teenage Girl Sets Herself on Fire in Response to Rape and Injustice (GodReports).

USA: Nabeel Qureshi Battling Cancer

Source: Christian Post, September 8, 2016

Nabeel Qureshi, an author, global speaker, and prominent Christian convert from Islam who was once part of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, announced in a post on his Facebook page last week that he has been diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer and explained that the prognosis was “quite grim.”

In a ten-minute video posted to YouTube [September 7], Qureshi expanded on the details of his diagnosis, revealing that he has stage four stomach cancer. According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for individuals with stage four stomach cancer is four percent.

» Full story with pictures. You can also follow his journey and pray with others at Praying for Nabeel Qureshi Facebook page.

» Editor’s note: I just finished Nabeel’s book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and found the apologetic/friendly debates between Nabeel and David Wood most useful in my dialogues with atheists as well. It is all a bit philosophical; perhaps too much so, for some. If you want some less heady tips on talking to Muslims (and others), check out this conversation or find a Halal food court and start a conversation of your own.

SUDAN: Christians on Trial Need Prayer

Source: Voice of the Martyrs, September 9, 2016

Three Sudanese Christian leaders and a Czech aid worker are currently on trial in Sudan, facing charges that carry a potential death penalty. The trial began in Khartoum on August 21 for Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Kodi, Rev. Kuwa Shemaal, Christian leader Abdelmoneim Abdelmoula, and Czech national Petr Jasek. After their arrest in December, all four were accused of conducting intelligence activities and providing material support for rebels in Sudan’s South Kordofan region. Pray for a just verdict and their immediate release.

» See full story with prayers and pictures as well as a longer related story (updated September 20).

» Please also pray for Iranian Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran, who has been returned to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison after a medical leave was cancelled, and rejoice with us that a Canadian missionary has been released from a two-year detention in China.

BURUNDI: Risen from the Dead

Source: Simon Guillebaud, September 5, 2016

Last month we sent out 701 volunteers for two weeks, who worked in every single province and in twenty-two different hospitals. This outreach was formally approved by both the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Health (which is amazing considering the current tensions and suspicions in the country because of rebel movements). The hospital authorities were mostly very receptive, although there was some opposition. Sometimes the opposition was overcome by the whole team donating blood.

Seventeen-year-old Aristide from Cibitoke was pronounced dead by the doctor, who withdrew the drip and covered his body with a sheet. The mother started weeping hysterically, and her cries drew the attention of our team nearby. One of them came rushing in, and felt led to claim his life back from the dead. After praying over the corpse, Aristide started breathing again, and he and his mother promptly gave their lives to the Lord, along with another forty-one people who witnessed or heard about what happened.

So our 701 folks spent their time washing seeping wounds, soiled patients, stinking societal rejects, and loving them in practical ways like doing their cooking, laundry, and general cleaning. They prayed for them, encouraged them, and listened to them. Just under 7,000 inpatients were ministered to, along with many more family members and staff. They reckon about 24,000 heard the gospel and 3,345 people made commitments.

Loving people in word and deed. Bringing hope and healing in humility.

Beautiful.

» Read full story.

WORLD: Help Influence Urban History

Source: World Evangelical Alliance, September 19, 2016

We are living in decisive times for the future of our urban world and the health and integrity of God’s creation. These two realities—cities and towns in the next 20-30 years growing from 50 percent of the world’s population to 75 percent living in urban areas, and the integrity of the world’s ecosystems that all life is dependent upon—are inseparably linked and both vitally important to the wellbeing of humanity. This is why the decisions being made for the “New Urban Agenda” that will be launched at the United Nations Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador (October 17-20, 2016) will be historically important and influential.

We believe Christians have a lot to learn about urbanism at UN Habitat III, but we also have a lot to offer from our biblical perspective, experiences, expertise, concerns, and values. The question is, however: Will Christians show up at this decisive time or just sit on the sidelines watching?

» Read full story and learn about the “Urban Shalom” project. Sounds interesting.

» Also check out the Brookings Institute’s Cities and Refugees: The European Response.

World News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeMissions Catalyst News Briefs 9.7.16

GERMANY: Refugees in Europe
UZBEKISTAN: Pastor and Family Granted Asylum in US
INDIA: Secret Christians Multiplying
YEMEN: Hope amid Chaos
CENTRAL ASIA: Experiencing Life and Death

Khudni Maak Screenshot

Watch Arab Christians sing Khudni Maak (Take Me With You), a Yemeni worship song. Beautiful words and music!

Greetings!

I am amazed at the dangers people will face to get to safety. The Guardian reported this week that an Afghan man spent 22 hours strapped to the lorry bound for Spain after paying a trafficker to help him reach Europe. This week’s news is full of stories of such desperate attempts.

This week is also the beginning of Hajj season. Last year’s Hajj disaster shows even holy sites are not safe. Pray for the expected 2 million pilgrims and that they might meet Christ on their spiritual journeys.

A group of Arab Christians knows where safety lies; see above. What beautiful music and words. Thanks to Global Worship for sharing this.

Blessed is he who knows where to find refuge (Psalm 34:8).

Pat

GERMANY: Refugees in Europe

Source: INcontext Perspectives, August 2016

In July, an INcontext team traveled to Germany to meet with key leaders in an attempt to unravel the challenges, opportunities, and approaches concerning the hundreds of thousands of refugees crossing European borders.

Interview after interview confirmed the fact that Muslims are turning to Christ. There is some suspicion that converts may be confessing Christ in the hope of receiving asylum, and there are fears that the salvation of many Muslims may come at the expense of Europe, but the general feeling is that God is building his kingdom and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

  • An Iranian pastor in Wiesbaden shared how, in the 22 years that he has ministered in Germany, more than 3,000 Iranians have accepted Christ, most of them in the last three years.
  • A Syrian pastor shared how “God is doing a mighty work.” Eighty-five percent of his church are refugees.
  • In the Café International in Leipzig, there are 20-30 refugees attending Bible classes once a week.
  • One Iraqi convert in Giessen stated, “I would rather die as a Christian than live as a Muslim,” after coming to know Christ.
  • In Frankfurt, a local church offered the Alpha course to refugees and ended up with a waiting list of 40 Muslims.
  • In Wiesbaden, there are now three Farsi and three Arabic-speaking churches.
  • One Iranian convert shared that in 2014 he was the only foreigner in the German church he attended. There are now 40 Iranians in the church.

» Read the full report. The 11-page PDF includes much data and analysis.

» See also The Rescuers, reporting on a German NGO that assists refugees with safe passage on the Mediterranean (Foreign Policy).

UZBEKISTAN: Pastor and Family Granted Asylum in US

Source: World Watch Monitor, September 2, 2016

Finally, their journey is over. Three years since fleeing Uzbekistan—following four years in a labor camp, house arrest, and death threats—Pastor Dmitry Shestakov has arrived in the United States, where he and his family have been granted asylum.

It’s been almost 10 years since Shestakov was first detained, after a raid on his Full Gospel Church in Andijan, southeastern Uzbekistan.

When eventually he was released, only two church members went to collect him.

“No one else dared to come, because they’re afraid to attract unwanted attention due to their connection with him,” a charity worker with Open Doors, which advocates for Christians like Shestakov, said afterwards. “Pastor Dmitry has to be very careful and everything he does will be strictly monitored. This includes the people he will be talking to, everything he says, everywhere he goes, and much more.”

Shestakov himself said he had been “ordered to follow strict guidelines and regulations.” He added: “I am a pastor and I want to serve God, but I have to find a wise way to do this.”

But two years later it became apparent that staying in Uzbekistan was no longer possible. After being made to ask the police for written permission to leave his house, and then receiving death threats, Dmitry Shestakov took his family to Ukraine, where they were granted refugee status by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

» Read full story.

» See also another report from Open Doors, this one describing tensions surrounding the faith of another Central Asian believer who apparently has remained in the region.

INDIA: Secret Christians Multiplying

Source: Christian Aid Mission, August 25, 2016

In the strongly communal nature of life in Udhampur District, in the Jammu region [of Northern India], friends and relatives are the fiercest enemies of those who embrace Christ.

“So many people come to us secretly,” [one] ministry leader said, “but they don’t want to come on Sunday due to the fear of the people, because everyone knows it’s the day Christians come to worship in the church.”

The ministry, which shares the Good News to see lives transformed among the Dogri-speaking people of the area through the efforts of its 22 indigenous evangelists, has also been able to stage big-tent, evangelistic campaigns in the past two years. With many people coming from surrounding villages, those at the events who put their faith in Christ also may keep it hidden from their family and friends.

“They know Jesus is the truth, Jesus is the way of salvation, but they are afraid of their friends and relatives,” the director said. “You may see 200 people accept Christ, but only 30, 40, or 50 take baptism. We’ve prayed so many times for the sick people in the community, and they get healed immediately, but they remain secret believers. We believe that one day God will bring a break-through, but there are thousands of secret believers.”

» See full story with pictures.