World News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn This Issue: Responding to Terror


Dear Readers,

If you click only one link in this edition, let it be Who Would Dare to Love ISIS? A Letter from the People of the Cross to ISIS from a group called Mighty. This POWERFUL video message will take less than four minutes of your time.

For some helpful insights into the emotional lives of violent jihadis, read the transcript of Thomas Hegghammer’s lecture, Why Terrorists Weep. I like to think that Missions Catalyst news stories are a great source of fuel for prayer, and this may be the best fuel I’ve seen yet for prayer on this topic.

Finally, take a look at African Man Turns to Christ Moments before Beheading, which describes Mathew Ayairga’s response when, on a beach in Libya, ISIS militants tried to force him to follow Islam (BosNewsLife).


GUATEMALA: Hardened Gang Member Transformed

Source: Godreports, April 18, 2015

His fellow gang member thrust a pistol into his hand. “Go ahead and kill the kid,” he was instructed.

Wedged between the dangerous Mara Salvatrucha and the Dieciocho gangs in a neighborhood where even police feared to go, Mario Ajcip’s gang had successfully fended off rivals to keep their turf in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Guatemala City.

When a rival dared to make incursion into Mario’s neighborhood, there was only one gang-inflicted punishment—death. This time it was Mario’s turn to execute the cornered kid on the dark dirt alley.

Never shy to physically beat up a rival, Mario balked at murder. A leader himself among the 100 gang members, he began talking about teaching the guy a lesson and letting him go.

“There was something in me that I can’t explain why I couldn’t do it. Now I understand that the prayers of my mother had effect,” Mario says.

» Read full story and watch Mario’s testimony about this event, 15 years ago, and what happened after that to change his life. Let’s pray and ask God in his mercy to intervene in the lives of those like Mario who may be vulnerable to being radicalized as gang members or global terrorists.

WORLD: A Christian Response to the Crisis in the Mediterranean

Source: World Evangelical Alliance, April 23, 2015

The capsizing of a boat carrying an estimated 850 desperate men, women, and children from Libya to the shores of Southern Europe has once again put the dangerous human migration route across the Mediterranean into the public spotlight. Only 28 were rescued.

Assuming that this devastating death toll is confirmed, a total of 1,600 lives will have been lost in the waters between January 1 and April 20, 2015. During this same period, more than 36,000 people reached the shores of Southern Europe. In 2014, 219,000 migrants survived the voyage. 3,500 migrants died at sea.

The United Nations, governments, humanitarian agencies, and faith leaders are struggling to come up with a satisfactory response to this unprecedented crisis in the region.

» Read full story with links to source material, resources, and suggestions on how we should respond.

» Also read On Migration in the Mediterranean (the Arabist) and see, on an interactive map, answers to a question Oxfam raised about which countries are giving their “fair share” to assist Syrian refugees (IRIN).

NEPAL: Death Toll Climbs, Christians Reaching Out

Source: Mission Network News, April 27, 2015

Rescue workers from around the world are converging on Nepal. Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the country just 50 miles northeast of Kathmandu, damaging an unknown number of buildings, killing many, and injuring thousands. Survivors say it was like trying to walk on a boat during heavy seas.

The earthquake hit just before noon local time on Saturday, April 25, the day Christians attend their weekly church services.

“People by the hundreds were worshiping … in those churches,” says K.P. Yohannan of Gospel for Asia. “[Our leaders are] trying to find out how many are dead or other churches affected.”

In terms of emergency response, Yohannan says GFA workers were prepared for this. “We have training going on continually for crisis. That is the reason why immediately our people could be mobilized right there in Kathmandu, reaching out to the suffering people.”

»  Read full story and another from Mission Network News, Nepal Death Toll Expected to Double as Rural Damage Rolls in.

» See also an editorial piece from The Guardian, Don’t Rush to Nepal to Help, and, from the World Evangelical Alliance, A Request for Prayer and Support for Nepal. At this writing, the UN estimates that 25% of Nepal’s population was (directly?) affected by the earthquake.

USA: Perspectives Study Program Equipping 8,000 New Students Annually

Source: Mission Frontiers, March 3, 2015

Forty years ago Ralph Winter gathered a small number of Urbana Mission Conference students at Wheaton College. Today it’s grown into a thriving movement with over 180,000 Perspectives alumni in the US and over 40,000 globally [and] now averaging over 8,000 new students in the US each year.

As many as 34,000 have begun to serve cross culturally and internationally as a direct result of taking the Perspectives course. Many more have been awakened to intercede and give to the work of God’s mission or have adjusted their lifestyles to welcome and reach out to internationals at home. God, through the Perspectives course, has created a vast “fertile soil” from which he draws his people to join the work he is accomplishing among all peoples.

» Read full story and learn more about Perspectives or find a class.

» Note that the next few Perspectives online courses start May 4, July 6, and August 17. Perspectives intensive courses are planned for California (June), Texas (July), and Pennsylvania (August). A Perspectives national conference will be held in July 2016. We’ll add all those to the Missions Catalyst events calendar.

WORLD: Incomprehensible Languages

Sources: Various, via Pat Noble

English speakers who don’t understand a language may say, “It’s all Greek to me!” On a recent trip to India I wondered if a Telugu or Hindi speaker might use a similar phrase when my English was incomprehensible. This chart from Omniglot doesn’t answer that question, but it does tell us that an Arabic speaker who is not understood may ask, “Am I speaking Hindi?” There must be some interesting histories behind these idioms!

Speaking of languages, check out The Lord’s Prayer Spoken in 8 Ancient Languages. Beautiful.

Receiving the Scriptures in your heart language makes a big impact on your ability to understand and apply them, as Wycliffe Global Alliance reminds us in a recent story, Now I Understand! It includes the testimony of a Japanese Deaf man sharing the dramatic difference that the Japanese Sign Language Bible is making in his life.

WORLD: Growth Projections of World Religions

Source: Missiologically Thinking, April 6, 2015

[On April 2], the Pew Research Center released an extensive report on the future populations of different world religions. Though there is troubling information here, this is a fascinating work providing a sobering reality of our world. Here are a few of the projections [for] 2010-2050:

  • In the United States, Christians are expected to decline from 76 percent to 66 percent of the population.
  • In the United States, the unaffiliated are expected to increase from 16 percent to 26 percent of the population.
  • In the United States, Muslims will outnumber Jews.
  • In the United States, the Hindu population will double.
  • Europe’s Christian population will decrease by 100 million.
  • Europe’s Hindu population will double, Muslims will comprise 10 percent of the population, and the unaffiliated will reach about a quarter of the population.
  • 4 out of 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Sahara Africa.
  • The global number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians.
  • The global Buddhist population will remain the same.
  • The global unaffiliated will decline in population.

Such predictions are difficult to make with accuracy. However, this report should lead us to prayer, more intentional disciple-making, healthy questioning of our present structures and institutions, and the avoidance of burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the possible future.

» Read full story or the Pew report. Also note that the Center for the Study of Global Christianity offers a different analysis.

KENYA: “I Need God to Help Me Forget”

Source: World Watch Monitor, April 13, 2015

The chairman of Garissa University College’s Christian Union, who survived the April 2 Al Shabab attack in which 148 students were killed, has pleaded for prayer for the physical and psychological healing of survivors.

“Please pray for us… Many saw sights too horrible to describe,” said 21-year-old Frederick Gitonga.

“Pray for me too. I need peace of mind, strength, and wisdom. I am struggling with dreams that cause me to snap awake, then [I] cannot get back to sleep. I find myself remembering the horror of that day. The sounds and smells come back clearly.”

Gitonga explained how he had been up late the night before the attack, praying for one of the students under his care, that they would be able to truly forgive someone a wrong. The next morning, that student was dead, along with the other 21 Christian Union (CU) members who had attended early morning prayers.

Gitonga said the only reason he is still alive is because he had felt too tired after his late night to join in with prayers that morning. Instead, he decided to go back to sleep, only to wake to the sound of gunshots.

“My roommates ran out, leaving the door wide open,” he explained. “I felt a strong urge not to run, but to stay put. As I hid under the bed, I could hear the gunshots and screams of fellow students. I could [hear] them lying to women that they should come out since their religion does not allow them to kill women. When they did, they were all killed. I know of no single Muslim who lost their life.

“After some time things went quiet, but I did not move.”

The next thing Gitonga remembers is hearing two attackers enter the room.

» Read full story. See also Kenya Mourns Students Killed While Praying.

SOUTH AFRICA: Young Man Forgives Father’s Murderers

Source: International Mission Board, April 8, 2015

Eighteen-year-old Joseph Sambo laughed as he held his father’s hand. The two had spent the evening sharing secrets and talking about plans for the future. It was already after dark, so Joseph decided it was time to head inside.

Moments later, he heard yelling and turned back to see his father being held down and beaten by three men. Before he processed what was happening, he saw a gun pointed in his direction and was commanded to run. He found a nearby hiding place and listened as three gunshots were fired, followed by a deafening silence.

Joseph ran over to check on his father, but it was too late. He was already dead and the murderers had fled. With the death of his father went the death of Joseph’s hopes and dreams he had shared just minutes before.

“I asked, ‘Why God, why did you let this happen?’” Sambo, now 22, said.

» Read full story and watch related video (three minutes long).

BURMA: God at Work among Soldiers

Source Mission Network News, April 8, 2015

In Burma, God is drawing soldiers closer to himself in the midst of war.

Free Burma Rangers released a report saying attacks in the Southeast Asian nation are the [greatest] they’ve been since fighting renewed in 2011 after the 17-year ceasefire was broken. Karen News cited Human Rights Watch saying the conflict had led to more than 100,000 displaced civilians.

Despite the danger, a Vision Beyond Borders contact is putting her life on the line to minister to Kachin soldiers on the front lines.

The courage and compassion of this dedicated believer puts life in perspective, says VBB’s Dyann Romeijn. “Things in this life might be fatal, but they aren’t final. And it’s an example of a modern-day person living out that type of faith, that belief that what God calls us to is much more important than our personal safety.”

» Read full story.