World News Briefs


In This Issue: Extreme and Surprising News

  1. RUSSIA: Gospel Enters the Unknown
  2. BHUTAN: A “Happy” Place, But Not for All
  3. JORDAN: Most Hospitable Nation
  4. ERITREA: World’s Harshest Conditions
  5. BURMA: Rescuing Hunted Children
  6. MALAYSIA: Court Upholds Right to Convert from Islam


Yakutsk is the coldest region on earth, with temperatures frequently well below zero. Yet the believers are warm, friendly, and faithful, say sources at Slavic Gospel Association. See related story below.


This week’s news is full of “extremes.” Read about the coldest city on earth, the place with the most child soldiers, the “happiest” country, the most hospitable nation, and the place with the harshest conditions. Also read what I find most surprising of all, a story about a Malaysian court upholding the right to convert from Islam!

Extremely happy,

RUSSIA: Gospel Enters the Unknown

Source: Mission Network News, April 6, 2016

Through Slavic Gospel Association, God is revealing himself to those who’ve never heard his name. Eric Mock recently traveled to Yakutsk, Russia, as part of a new program taking root.

“Yakutsk is a city that is known as the coldest city on the planet. Temperatures, I have heard: as low as 70 below zero. But very often 40-50 degrees below zero in the winter,” Mock exclaims.

“In fact, in this area, people are still herding reindeer. The area is very rugged and remote. It’s not hard to see why with those temperatures.”

Missionary work in this area is hard. Not simply because of the cold, but also because the only way to get into the area is by passing over snowy roads and frozen rivers during its harshest season. Why not travel in the spring or summer, you ask? Simple. Mud. It’s more difficult passing through the mud than it is over snow and ice.

But what isn’t so well known about this Russian land is its growing church population. While growing churches [may not] seem like a big deal in the West, it is when the first church in the area was planted in 1994.

» Read full story, which describes efforts to provide Bible training for church leaders.

» Readers might also be interested to hear about ministry to unreached Siberian Tatars (Operation Mobilization).

BHUTAN: A “Happy Place,” But Not for All

Source: World Watch Monitor, April 14, 2016

The visit of the young UK Royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to Bhutan is shining a spotlight on a small Himalayan nation perhaps best known for its own King assessing his country’s performance by factors which contribute to “Gross National Happiness.”

But despite this apparent endeavor from the Buddhist nation to ensure its citizens’ felicity, Bhutan’s minorities—including around 20,000 Christians (2.8 percent of the population)—complain that happiness does not filter down to all parts of society.

Bhutan’s state religion is Buddhism and other religions are barely tolerated, so life as a Christian is difficult. Church buildings are illegal and non-Buddhists are not privy to the same benefits, such as free education. Proselytism and incitement to convert are illegal. Bhutanese who convert to Christianity can lose their citizenship.

Converts to Christianity endure threats and pressures from village heads and clerics to return to Buddhism. They can pray and worship privately in their homes, but they struggle to meet in congregations and to obtain official permission to do so. Some Christians have reported losing their jobs after their employers found out they were Christian.

» Read full story.

» Pray for Bhutan using a three-minute video from Prayercast.

JORDAN: Most Hospitable Nation

Source: Cry Out, March 2016

On February 2, King Abdullah of Jordan appealed for greater international assistance to enable his country to continue to sustain the numerous refugee communities across Jordan. The major communities are Iraqis and Syrians and they are equivalent to 20 percent of the population. The effects on housing, schooling, medical facilities, and the jobs market are becoming acute. Some live in camps, the largest of which, Zaatari, has become the fourth largest city/town in Jordan. Most, though, live dispersed throughout the country.

Less well known is that the country hosts groups of displaced persons from an estimated 40 other countries. These groups, and those endeavoring to support them, point out that few resources are being provided for them; Iraqis and Syrians get all the attention.

Let us pray that:

  • Jordan will remain a stable and peaceful country despite the conflicts affecting many of its neighbors.
  • Christians active in meeting humanitarian needs will know the Father’s provision, the Spirit’s enabling and radiate the Son’s love and life.
  • The bereaved, wounded, and traumatized will know the healing of Jesus and find new hope.
  • The economy will be expanded and infrastructure developed to provide jobs, housing, schools, etc. for the benefit of all those resident in Jordan.

» Read full story.

ERITREA: World’s Harshest Conditions

Source: Jubilee Campaign, February 29, 2016

The small East African countries of Eritrea and Somalia have produced thousands upon thousands of refugees who have fled to other African countries and Europe. Reports have estimated that nearly 5,000 people flee Eritrea each month.

The Committee to Protect Journalists stated Eritrea is “the most censored country in the world.” Only 1 percent of Eritreans can access the Internet. What’s more, as the Eritrean government is so strongly guarded against its citizens, any public gathering of seven or more requires a permit from the government.

Thousands of mostly Evangelical Christians are thought to be detained indefinitely, some of which are held in metal shipping containers. Although some were initially released after pledging to renounce their faith, none have been formally charged or tried and all are held until they provide similar denials of faith. During the past 15 years, these deplorable detention conditions have been inflicted upon tens of thousands of Evangelical Christians caught during Bible studies in private homes or otherwise seeking to practice their faith outside of the registered denominations.

» Read full story and see a website launched by the UNHCR, Telling The Real Story, which features first-hand accounts, audio messages, poetry, photos, and videos from Eritreans and Somalis who crossed the Mediterranean seeking a new life in Europe.

» In a recent story from a neighboring country, read (and pray about) Ethiopia Attack: 200 People Dead, 100 Children Missing (Al Jazeera).

BURMA: Rescuing Hunted Children

Source: Vision Beyond Borders, March 19, 2016

Burma/Myanmar has enslaved more child soldiers than any country in the world. In one area of heavy recruitment, our contact shared that “children as young as 10 years old are taken by the army, the boys to be soldiers and the girls to be in supportive military roles. Many children run away to the Buddhist monasteries because the soldiers do not bother the monasteries. But if a child who ran to the monastery goes home to visit his parents and the soldiers find out, they will come right away to kidnap that child.” One brave couple has taken up arms to rescue these vulnerable targets.

“Joseph” did not begin with this ministry in mind. One day, as he was traveling to share the Gospel in a predominantly Buddhist area, a Buddhist couple asked him to take care of their two boys. They were terrified that their children would be taken by the militia. Joseph could barely take care of his own family, so he told them he could not care for two more children. Two months later, the boys ran to a monastery to hide. Joseph and his wife felt terrible, thinking they had wasted a chance to bring these boys to Christ; they inquired of the Lord if it was his will for them to take some of these children in, and felt his confirming “Yes.”

» Read full story to learn about the 30 children Joseph’s family cares for.

» Also read 2016 Brings Change to Myanmar (Open Doors).

MALAYSIA: Court Upholds Right to Convert From Islam

Source: World Watch Monitor, March 29, 2016

In a landmark ruling, a Malaysian court upheld the rights of a Christian to convert from Islam. The judgment establishes a precedent in a country where religious conversions, particularly from Islam to Christianity, have been steeped in controversy.

The verdict reaffirms the supremacy of the Federal Constitution, which under Article 11 defends every Malaysian citizen’s right to freedom of religion.

For Rooney Rebit, the plaintiff, the decision could not have come at a more opportune time than in Holy Week: he was asking judicial authorities to declare that his belief in Jesus Christ was a fundamental human right.

The High Court in Kuching, Sarawak state, duly agreed. The judge, Yew Ken Jie, said: “He is free to exercise his right of freedom to religion, and he chose Christianity.”

Rebit was born into a Christian family in 1975, but his parents converted to Islam when he was eight years old. His Muslim name was Azmi Mohamad Azam Shah.

In 1999, Rebit embraced Christianity and was baptized.

In her decision, Judge Yew ruled that Rebit could not be considered to have officially professed Islam, because it was not his choice to embrace the religion. But when he became a Christian at the age of 24, he was mature enough to make a conscious decision.

» Read full story.

World News Briefs


  1. ZAMBIA: Overcoming Spiritual Foes on the Lake
  2. THAILAND: Church Helps Pakistani Refugees
  3. IRAN: World’s Fastest Growing Evangelical Population
  4. INDIA: Defeating Dark Powers in the Jungle
  5. PAKISTAN: Believer in Pakistan Exchanges Hate for Love

OM Picture

Charles Chansa shares the gospel with two woman in a village on Lake Tanganyika. Photo: OM International (related story below).


In our last edition of Missions Catalyst News Briefs, we pointed you to a project in the Congo that brought back some dignity and hope by taking family portraits. This time I want to introduce you to the work of photographer Dario Mitidieri who visited a refugee camp in Lebanon, taking portraits of Syrian families with space in each photo for loved ones missing or killed in the five-year conflict. These photos and stories are haunting and heart-wrenching. Does heaven has similar images of the Bride of Christ, with empty spaces for the tribes and tongues yet to join the chorus? Let us finish the task and complete the picture that John saw!

You might be interested in this glimpse into the early Church: The Very First Christian Hymnal includes the words that the Church will sing as recorded by John in the scene mentioned above as well as other words the very young Church sang, now set again to music. The Church’s words, at the beginning and at the end, are and will be “Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb!”

Let us sing,

ZAMBIA: Overcoming Spiritual Foes on the Lake

Source: OM International, March 31, 2016

The Nsumbu village sits near the Democratic Republic of Congo border, northwest of OM Lake Tanganyika’s base in Mpulungu. There, [OM worker Charles Chansa] and his team have led several locals to Christ, only to see them return to old practices and “traditional medicine”—meaning witchcraft—revealing what Charles calls “their true Christianity.”

It’s not an impossible problem, as God’s grace demonstrates, but it does require a concentrated effort from Charles and his team to reach locals as they fight on a spiritual level.

Some time ago, Charles remembered, there were three women in the village who were pregnant at various times. All three suffered greatly from the hot weather. They told Charles later that they almost died from the pain they experienced. All three babies were stillborn.

Recently, the women became pregnant again, and when the pain returned, they visited the village’s traditional doctors, received medicine, and were assured that their babies were fine. But when the pain didn’t stop, they looked to Charles and the OM team for help.

“We sat down with them and explained that we don’t give out medicine, but we know that, by calling on the name of Jesus, if spiritual forces have been causing their pain before, that their pregnancies would not end as they had before,” Charles said. “I read them the Bible, I led them to Christ, and we prayed with them that they would have faith that Jesus was [with] them.”

Just two days later, Charles received word that one of the women had given birth to a living, healthy child.

» Read full story. See also Miraculous Healing in Mozambique.

THAILAND: Church Helps Pakistani Refugees

Source: Worthy News, March 13, 2016

Pakistanis fleeing their country’s notorious blasphemy laws have been heading to Thailand for sanctuary.

“And for more than a decade, our parish has helped these refugees,” said Rev. Domenico Rodighiero, the pastor of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Saphanmai, Bangkok. The refugees are mostly Protestants and Catholics, but there are also many Ahmadi Muslims fleeing from persecution in Pakistan.

According to Asia News, most refugees from Pakistan flee first to Thailand, hoping to later resettle in other Southeast Asian countries. But this can prove to be problematic since Thailand does not recognize that refugees have rights.

“The Thai Church is generous and helps refugees find work,” said Rodighiero. “Sometimes we help them go home, or in special situations, like when they get sick. But it is not easy because there are so many and the needs are huge. The Church here is small and does not have a lot of resources. It is struggling to deal with such a big emergency.”

» Read full story and see also Thailand’s Asylum Crackdown, a 23-minute video by a BBC undercover reporter. Use the password “Pakistan.”