In this issue: Sharing donuts in Japan’s city of peace
- JAPAN: Of Donuts and Atom Bombs
- NORTHEAST AFRICA: Community Garden for the Zaila
- MALI: Kidnapped Swiss Missionary Still Alive
- CAMEROON: 5,000 Kapsiki Speakers Brave Danger to Welcome Bible
- IRAN: A Media Mogul Comes to Christ
I’ve seen sports, music, mountain climbing, and even surfing ministries that are designed to open doors for the gospel. Have we neglected the ministry of food? Nothing connects people like food!
Granted, it can also be divisive. Half of my household is now vegan, some of us have high blood sugar, and—shortly after buying 17 chickens—I discovered I have high cholesterol. So I’m a food pusher and a food cop, pushing eggs on my vegan kids while scolding my husband and mother-in-law for eating foods too high on the glycemic index.
My family’s spats are nothing compared to the war over hummus (see Give Chickpeas a Chance: Why Hummus Unites, and Divides, The Mideast), worse yet, the one over beef eating in North India. Perhaps our enemy knows the power of shared food?
I’m reading Tim Chester’s book A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table and watching Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Bread Making to mobilize myself and my tribe for welcoming international students. For additional inspiration and ideas about reaching international students, check out the latest edition of Mission Frontiers.
Whether you make your own healthy delights at home, help plant a community garden, or hang out with seekers in a donut shop in Japan (see stories below), may God bless your efforts to invite people to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” After all, he is the Bread of Life!
Source: Frontiers USA, June 16, 2016
In a remote corner of Northeast Africa live the Zaila people. They are living versions of the desert land where they reside—hard, austere, and seemingly impenetrable. For generations, these staunch Muslims have had no one reaching them with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
John and Rachel Miller had never heard of the Zaila when they first responded to God’s call to reach the nations for his glory.
But the Millers had heard of unengaged people groups—those who have no churches, no believers, and no messengers of the Kingdom trying to share the Gospel with them. They were convinced that even the most remote communities need a chance to hear about Jesus. John and Rachel decided they could be part of the solution and go to the Muslim world where the need for the Gospel is greatest.
As John and Rachel worked to recruit their team, they moved to a capital city in the region. They began looking for open doors to serve further afield where they could live among an unengaged people. At that time, the Zaila were one of Northeast Africa’s largest unengaged Muslim people groups. As they started meeting Zailas living in the capital, God stirred their hearts for this lost people.
Then they met a chief from Adaye, a remote Zaila village.
“Our people are hungry,” the chief told John, an agriculturalist, “and we don’t have a produce market in our town. Would you help us start a garden for the village?”
» See full story with pictures.
» You might also be interested in A Tale of Two Farmers, which brings together a man who grew up helping with the wheat harvest in Kansas and Oklahoma and a very different kind of farmer in Japan (SEND International).
Source: World Watch Monitor, June 17, 2016
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has released a video, purporting to show that a Swiss nun kidnapped in Mali in January is alive and in good health.
The three-minute video, posted on social media [on 16 June], shows a veiled Beatrice Stockly speaking in French, saying that she has been detained for 130 days but is in good health and has been treated well, although it has been very hot. She concludes by thanking her family and the Swiss government for all their efforts to secure her release.
» Read full story, which includes links to previous coverage, and see also a report from the International Business Times which refers to Stockly “the last Westerner living in Timbuktu.”
Source: United Bible Societies, July 11, 2016
Usually, large gatherings are banned in Cameroon’s Far North region, due to high security risks—Boko Haram has carried out a number of deadly attacks there. But on June 4, the iconic mountains near Mogodé—a town very close to the Nigerian border—witnessed an unprecedented crowd of 5,000 Kapsiki people celebrating the launch of the first Bible in their language.
Special authorization was granted to hold the gathering, and 250 soldiers were provided for protection by the general in charge of the region’s armed forces.
The day before the launch, the town organized a grand parade to welcome the new Bibles as special guests of honor as they arrived in the back of a military truck. In fact, the convoy carrying the new Bibles, Bible Society staff, and soldiers received a rapturous welcome in every Kapsiki village that it passed during its 120-kilometer journey from the Bible Society’s offices in Maroua to Mogodé.
As the truck pulled up outside the Catholic Church, a crowd of joyful Kapsiki Christians surrounded it. Their singing and dancing continued late into the night.
» See full story with pictures. Pray for the Kapsiki and their neighbors. (I was encouraged to read that one of the first things the Kapsiki did was take up a collection was taken to help other people in Cameroon who do not yet have the Bible in their language.)
Source: Iran Alive Ministries, July 1, 2016
The largest network of secular satellite channels in Iran is owned by a wealthy family that lives outside Iran. This network consists of over eighteen 24/7 channels that cover every interest from movies to sports and from channels dedicated to children to MTV-like music. Two years ago, we started praying for the salvation of this family. Last summer, Soleiman and his wife Sayeh, co-owners of this network, accepted Christ and contacted us. Sayeh explains:
“Having experienced the power of God’s transformation in our lives and being inspired by Pastor Hormoz [of Iran Alive Ministries], my husband and I decided to start a new Christian television station. We had the finances; we had the know-how.
“But as we prayed about starting this Christian TV station, God spoke to my heart: ‘Sayeh, do you want to glorify yourself or me? If you are looking to glorify me, you don’t need to start a new station. I already have one: Iran Alive (Network 7). I want you to work with my network.’”
» Read full story and pray for the continued transformation of Iranian leaders and others who hear the gospel.
» See also another story from this part of the world which describes the recent baptism and protection of 18 former Muslims (Bibles for Mideast, via GodReports).
Missions Catalyst News Briefs 7.6.16
- BRAZIL: Refugee Olympic Team, Symbol of Triumph and Belonging
- RUSSIA: Law Would Curtail Evangelism
- NEPAL: Influential Buddhist Monk Receives Jesus
- CAMBODIA: Journey of a New Testament Begins with Vietnam War Refugees
This Prayercast video asks, “Does God love even them?” Join us in praying for Islamic State and those they target or endanger.
May the recent suicide attacks in Orlando, Bangladesh, Baghdad, and Saudi Arabia serve as a call to press in on praying for our enemies and those they target. At least 250 people were killed in the July 3 attack on Baghdad; drone images capture the devastation (CNN). Pray also for those going to dangerous places to love and serve those in some of the places of greatest need. A team serving in Fallujah barely escaped harm when a coalition airstrike hit (Preemptive Love Coalition).
Prayercast reminds us, “Despite these gruesome realities, ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but…against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12). This is a spiritual battle against our adversary, the devil, who ‘prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8).
“We hate the darkness and underlying evil, and we grieve the resulting bloodshed and pain. Yet Jesus still says, ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44). God’s love reaches not only those suffering under this oppression, but it reaches even into the ranks of Islamic State. Just as God transformed Saul into Paul through an encounter with Jesus, so can he transform today’s persecutors into tomorrow’s evangelists. And he is doing just that.”
Pray for the Islamic State using Prayercast’s short, powerful video (contains graphic images). See also In Harm’s Way: Reflections on Missionaries and Risk (Evangelical Missions Quarterly).
Source: Mission Network News, July 4, 2016
We’re about a month away now from the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and ten refugee athletes will be participating in the newly formed Refugee Olympic Team.
The athletes will compete in swimming, track, and judo. Their countries of origin include Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their team represents to refugees worldwide that although they don’t have a country, they still have a voice.
Open Doors USA’s Emily Fuentes says it also puts faces to the refugee crisis. “I think representation truly does matter in situations like this and brings attention to this unprecedented refugee crisis that we’re having in our world right now. It’s not just Syria, it’s not just Iraq, but it’s several other countries where there’s violence against people of different faiths, of different backgrounds.”
» Read full story and read the athletes’ biographies.
» See also Fran Pratt’s litany for refugees.
Source: Mission Network News, June 30, 2016
“Preaching to the choir” is an idiom which means you are trying to make believers out of people who already believe, or convince people who are already convinced. When the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, approved a package of anti-terror bills this week, that is what could become the reality for gospel work in Russia.
Slavic Gospel Association’s Joel Griffith says, “From what we’re able to understand from all the sources, if the bill is signed and it stands as is without change, it looks like missionary activity would be off-limits to anybody but representatives of the registered organizations or groups, or individuals who have entered into formal agreements with such bodies.”
Plus, the new anti-terror legislation cracks down on anything that is interpreted as a violation of public security and order—extremist actions, coercion into ruining families, and encroachments on the freedom of the person and the rights and freedoms of citizens.
One way that could be read, explains Griffith, is “they’re saying every missionary has to carry documents with specific information proving their connection to a registered religious group, and it looks like they’re wanting to try to ban any missionary activity in residential areas except for certain things like prayer services or ceremonies.”
» Read full story.
» See additional coverage from Forum18 News Service, which specializes in coverage of religious freedom issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia, and Belarus.
Source: GodReports, June 23, 2016
The Nepal earthquake in 2015 killed over 8,000 people and was the worst natural disaster to strike that country since 1934. Hundreds of thousands were left homeless—with entire villages flattened—which prompted many Christian organization to respond with humanitarian aid.A prominent Buddhist monk observed carefully as Christians helped rebuild his community last year after the massive temblor reduced his neighborhood to rubble.
“After watching us for seven days, he said, ‘I’m going to give my life to Jesus,’” a ministry director for Christian Aid Mission reported.
Before the earthquake, the Buddhist leader had never allowed homegrown missionaries to preach in his area. But he was disheartened when he observed that none of his monastery colleagues assisted with aid or rebuilding following the earthquake.
“Where are the 330 million gods of Hinduism? Where are the Buddhists?” the monk asked.
The monk placed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ, along with his family and many others, and became the leader of a church.
» Read full story and another from GodReports, High Priest of Santeria Caught a Vision of Hell, until Jesus Freed Him from the Curse.
Source: United Bible Societies, May 23, 2016
Tot Nhernh, 93, vividly remembers the panic he and his family felt as the bombs started falling on their village in northeast Cambodia. It was the 1970s and the Vietnam war was spilling into the region as members of the Viet Cong crossed the border to hide.
With their village totally destroyed and desperate to escape the continued US bombing in their region, Nhernh and his family, along with many others, crossed the border into Vietnam. Not only were they traumatized by the destruction they had witnessed, they were also deeply worried that in their haste to leave they hadn’t had time to make offerings to appease the spirits.
But then some Vietnamese people began to visit these desperate refugees. They offered them help and friendship, and also shared some good news: God loved them and had released them from all bondage through his son, Jesus. Nhernh recalls how he felt all his fear falling away, replaced by a peace and freedom he had never experienced. He was among several Bunong refugees to become Christians, learning much about their new faith during their time in exile.
When the war ended, he could not wait to return home and share the gospel. He and the other new Bunong Christians planted small churches in Bunong villages, and also evangelized other hill tribes, including the Krung and Tampuan.
This May, around 50 years after the first attempt to translate the Scriptures into Bunong was stopped by war, the Bunong people of Cambodia and Vietnam finally receive[d] the very first New Testament in their language.
» See full story (which has some great pictures) and read an encouraging report on the progress of scripture distribution around the world.