World News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn This Issue: Glory Fleeting or Enduring

BRAZIL: The Olympic Dream and the Human Race
BRAZIL: Olympics Offer Rare Ministry Opportunity
ERITREA: Moving Testimony of a Refugee
BANGLADESH/WORLD: A New Bible for Muslims
KENYA: Why Are Churches and Mosques Being Painted Yellow?


Image: Lausanne Movement. This month more than a thousand younger leaders and mentors from more than 140 countries gathered in Jakarta to meet and collaborate for global mission. About two thirds of the participants were from the Majority World, and about one third were women. Learn more or watch the summary video.


Three global gatherings happened recently. The first, on July 23, was the global simulcast of an electronic music festival and may be cause for great concern. The second was Lausanne Movement’s Young Leaders Gathering in Jakarta, Indonesia, and that one fuels great hope. The third, still going on, is the Olympic Games in Rio. The Olympics inspire dreams of glory!

When sleuthing for news brief material, I could not find much unrelated to the Games. Many articles told stories of sportsmanship at its best. I’m also curious to see the remake of Ben Hur, with its tales of sportsmanship at its worst. That will be in theaters in the US this weekend; read this interview with the producer.

I’ve been watching some of the Olympics by catching whatever is on when I take a break from work. I read about Lopez Lomong, a former Lost Boy of Sudan who became an Olympian. I found a piece about how Saudi women are “changing the game.”  I also came across Usain Bolt vs. 100 Years of Olympic Sprinters, in which the authors concluded that repeat performances are rare and glory is fleeting.

Looking for enduring glory? Find clues in John 17.


BRAZIL: The Olympic Dream and the Human Race

GMI Olympics smallSource: GMI Missiographics, August 2016

The Olympics… an amazing opportunity to engage the entire globe in a powerful way. Few other global events have the same impact. Are you looking at the Olympics as a lens on the human race?

Dear God, as athletes compete and as citizens from every country cheer for their nation’s finest, will you show yourself to them in a powerful way? Be present in this truly global event and give us new insights into your Kingdom as we participate. May these games see many athletes come to know you and many more spectators get a glimpse of your grace.

» Read full story or view infographic.

BRAZIL: Olympics Offer Rare Ministry Opportunity

Source: Mission Network News, August 10, 2016

And in the midst of this athletic competition that gathers people from around the globe is a unique evangelism opportunity that only comes once every other year—one that Athletes in Action is fully engaged in.

Tim Pitcher is at the Rio Olympics right now with Athletes in Action. The Athletes in Action team has around 100 diverse and multilingual staff members engaging athletes and families and being a spiritual encouragement.

“They’re here to be able to minister to the athletes from their country or their language group and really try through some initiative evangelism to be able to meet with them, resource them, so if they go back home, they’re going to have copies of God’s Word that they can get through security and customs that a normal missionary might not,” shares Pitcher.

“[When] Rio finishes and they all start going home, the gospel seeds will be spread on all the various lives as they’re going home to their final destinations. It’s a very strategic opportunity to equip and spread the gospel.”

» Read full story.

» You may also be interested in a Brigada Today article which suggests the Olympics are a great time to help others catch a global vision.

ERITREA: Moving Testimony of a Refugee

Source: Jubilee Campaign, July 31, 2016

“Very recently I had a trying time in my life,” [explained Hanna Petros Solomon in a June 22 presentation]. “No, I didn’t have to dodge bullets to cross another border, I had to write my transfer essay to university. In order to understand who you are as a person, universities ask you to describe the journey that brought you to them. I wrote what I thought was an excellent essay about why I came to America, and handed it to my professor who was helping me with the process. He told me that the essay spoke more about my country and the state of dictatorship than it did my own experiences, it had to be personal.

“In an effort to apply his advice, I changed every ‘we’ pronoun to ‘I,’ and suddenly the words on paper became too personal, painful even.”

» Read Hanna Petros Solomon’s story to learn more about the situation in Eritrea and how it has affected lives, or watch this recording of her testimony. Another version (a bit more polished) is from 2015.

BANGLADESH/WORLD: A New Bible for Muslims

Source: Compassion Radio, August 8, 2016

How do you reach Muslims for Christ? With the gospel, right? And where do we find that? In the Word of God, of course. But which Bible is the right Bible for the task? Now that’s a more complicated question, and not so easily answered

Norm’s guest knows a thing or two about reaching people for Christ in the world’s hotspots. He’s about as intrepid as they come and can hold his own in any discussion on the Great Commission. We’re glad to welcome back our old friend, Dr. Viggo Olsen.

» Listen to the 26-minute interview on the topic of contextualization and several other episodes with Dr. Olsen aired/posted in August.

See also Legendary Missionary Doctor Works on Muslim-friendly English Translation of New Testament (GodReports, 2012).

KENYA: Churches and Mosques Repainted to Demonstrate Shared Humanity

Source: Christian Today, August 16, 2016

Churches and mosques in Nairobi are being painted a vibrant shade of yellow to demonstrate a “shared humanity” and highlight that there is more that unites people of different faiths than divides them.

The Colour in Faith initiative was launched in 2015 by Colombian-American artist Yazmany Arboleda, who wanted to find a way to cross “language, religion, ethnicity, and politics,” which so often cause sectarian divides.

“The goal was to take houses of worship in Kenya and paint them yellow in the name of love,” he told The Guardian. “The idea from the beginning was to turn buildings into sculptures that speak to our shared humanity.”

So far more than 20 houses of worship have signed up, and three have already been painted—a mosque, a church, and a Hindu temple.

Arboleda says the act of painting the buildings has brought different communities together. “To see people smile and talk to each other is beautiful.”

» See full story with pictures.

World News Briefs


In this issue: The highest guru

  1. INDIA: Celebrating Christ as the Highest Guru
  2. NEPAL: Witch Doctor Refers Man to Church Planter
  3. INDONESIA: Younger Leaders Unite
  4. WEST AFRICA: Slave Wives of the Gods
  5. IRAN: Azeri Christians Arrested


Recently, while hanging out with coworkers where I tutor, I felt like the foreigner who never fits in. Yes, they spoke English, but I didn’t understand the way they used the words. Their subculture may have begun in 1996, but the recently launched smartphone app has helped it take off and is even helping people fall in love with their own cities. One Texas seminary used it to hold a two-hour party that attracted 200 people, six of whom came to Christ. It’s not just an American thing, either; people are over the world are joining in. Our friend Stephen Davies, former missionary to Burkina Faso but now in London, is hooked. Have you guessed what I’m talking about?

This and the stories below got me thinking about the gospel, church, and culture. The Church and Culture blog reports on a study of America’s four Gods and another on religious literacy (take the test). American or not, how well do you know your own culture and its subcultures? Do you tend to assume we have the same values, or speak the same language?

With any culture, we are also challenged to ask what can (or should) be used as a bridge for the gospel, and what can’t or shouldn’t? Missiologists differ on the answers. Is it contextualization, or is it syncretism?

Our first story, below, provides a good case study. What do you think? Feel free to share your comments on our website or Facebook page.

Writing from the North Country (which has a culture of its own),


INDIA: Celebrating Christ as the Highest Guru

Source: Global Worship, July 20, 2016


Image: Christ the Guru. Oil painting by M.P. Manoj, based on the original drawing by Joy Elamkunnapuzha, Christian Musicological Society of India.

A friend in India writes:

Happy Guru Purnima! [annual day in India and Nepal to honor your guru and focus on their teachings]. Prabhu Yeshu ji mere sadguru he! (Lord Jesus is my sadguru, true/highest teacher).

This day (from one night to the next night) is a day when millions of people in India and Nepal (and some in the diaspora) will be focusing on better learning and following the teachings of their gurus (guru = one who dispels darkness, and can be used for a secular teacher, and especially for religious and musical teachers). Many shishya (devotees/disciples/students) will wake up at 4am to begin, meditating on his teachings in the early morning, worshiping him throughout the day, and studying his teachings throughout the day. Many will be fasting as they study their guru’s teachings throughout the day. Many will meet together with other devotees, and talk with others about his teachings, or sing songs of devotion to him.

» Read full story, with worship honoring Christ as highest guru. If this is your cup of chai (or that of those you hope to reach), check out the Yeshu Bhajan Digital Songbook (praise songs to Jesus in Hindi).

NEPAL: Witch Doctor Refers Man to Church Planter

Source: Empart, June 2016

Every day [Mannba’s family] faced problems. Life was difficult for them. Evil spirits used to torment the family. There was always sickness in the family. The family went to the village doctors many times but could not get any healing. They then approached the witch doctors, one after the other, but still there was no relief. There was no peace in the family. In frustration, Mannba returned to the witch doctor and asked what he and his family should do to receive deliverance from their torment.

Mannba was astonished when the witch doctor admitted defeat and told him to find a church planter and let him pray, and then there would be deliverance.

…Neighbors saw change in the family and opposed them, saying, “Why do you serve another god?” Still the family continued to serve the Lord Jesus and grew strong in their faith. Mannba’s father went to India and worked hard to earn money. He earned four lakh and built a beautiful house. The villagers were jealous and claimed that he was possessed by an evil spirit.

» To better understand these dynamics, read full story.

» See also a video about God’s power at work in Bible translation in Nepal (Wycliffe), well worth 39 minutes of your time, and Traditional Healers and Modern Medicine in Madagascar (Al Jazeera), a unique look into the life of another “traditional healer” and what he claims he can and cannot do.

INDONESIA: Younger Leaders Unite

Source: Lausanne Movement, July 2016

The 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG2016) will be held August 3-10 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Occurring once a generation, this is the third such gathering that the Lausanne Movement has convened. Previous gatherings held were in Singapore in 1987 and Malaysia in 2006 which mobilized and connected emerging evangelical influencers for global mission. They also led to many lifelong friendships and ministry partnerships.

YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for his global mission.

The Lausanne Movement is eager to connect evangelical influencers across all generations to work together towards the vision of the gospel for every person, an evangelical church for every people, Christ-like leaders for every church, and kingdom impact in every sphere of society.

» Read full story. (I am way beyond “young,” but following these leaders on Twitter blesses me! Love the passion.)