In this issue: Glimpses of the Global Church
- HAITI: Time to Send Out Missionaries
- SOUTHEAST ASIA: Calling Hispanics to Change the World
- IRAN: Actor Transformed by the Gospel
- NEPAL: Miriam Refuses to Stop Praying
- SYRIA: “We Are Going Through a Terrible Moment”
My all-time favorite prayer for the nations is from Psalm 24: “Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” You may also recognize it from Handel’s Messiah. I was delighted to find that the same prayer is being sung by Pakistanis. Enjoy this upbeat version in Hindi/Urdu, Punjabi Zabor 24:7-10.
Don’t forget that this week you have the chance to join millions who are praying this Global Day of Prayer, Pentecost Sunday, May 24. As you consider how to pray, may I again commend to you the resource World in Prayer? I noticed that they often give praises for “good news” as well as lift up the “bad news” before God. The May 8 edition of World News This Week in Prayer is a great example.
Also this week, Christian Solidarity Worldwide has asked for prayer for China. Watch this two-minute video and access more resources.
William Carey famously said, “To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.” Wouldn’t he love to see the maps we have now? Here are some I bet he would have used (all from Flowing Data):
A recent Lausanne Global Analysis challenges our ideas about data:
“What is happening in mission statistics is wonderful for prayer and for mobilization. By and large, what is missing are actionable data. To obtain data that informs on-the-ground ministry, another step is needed,” says the report, adding that for national churches and mission organizations to use data in developing and implementing their strategies, the information needs to be reliable, recent, detailed, and reportable.
“The way to do this is to change from gathering statistics for missionaries to gathering data for a nation: national church statistics. An outsider perspective has to be changed to an insider perspective. That is the major challenge facing missionary statistics today.”
I hope you’ll read the whole article. Meanwhile, some insider perspectives; today’s newsbriefs highlight stories of laborers for the kingdom whom God is raising up from all over: a Haitian missionary, Hispanic mobilizer, Iranian evangelist, Nepali intercessor, and an Assyrian advocate. Thanks for standing with them in prayer.
Source: OM News, May 7, 2015
Pastor Marc had a vision to mobilize the Haitian church into missions, and now his prayers are becoming a reality. Six Haitians have joined OM full-time this year, and OM has a vision is to send even more, especially to French-speaking North Africa.
Ruth is a nurse with a passion for HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention. She is also a new OM missionary from Haiti who is raising support to travel to schools and communities around Haiti providing education to those who are still greatly affected by stigmas and lack of knowledge. HIV and AIDS is a big problem in Haiti and is on the rise.
“I wanted to go to people and teach them more about HIV and AIDS and also about Jesus,” Ruth said. “I want to go all over Haiti, I want to go school to school, mountain to mountain… I really like that, and I wanted to be a nurse-missionary!”
There are many Haitians who are excited about missions and want to make a difference yet struggle to raise the funds necessary. But they persevere, determined to overcome the many challenges to serve in whatever way God calls.
» Read full story.
» Note: Former receiving nations that now send workers may avoid making the mistakes of those who came to them. Watch this humorous Cautionary Tale (Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions).
Source: IMB Commission Stories, April 30, 2015
Hispanic followers of Christ are ready to change the world, declares singer Coalo Zamorano, one of the top contemporary Christian musicians in the Spanish-speaking world.
That’s the message—and the title—of Zamorano’s new music video (Cambia el Mundo), produced in partnership with IMB. The video, shot in a part of Southeast Asia mostly untouched by the gospel of Jesus Christ, invites Hispanics to “open your hands, your heart… change the world, change the world today.”
“The next missionary movement is going to come from the Hispanic community,” said Zamorano, 42, an internationally renowned singer, composer, producer, and Latin Grammy winner.
“I think that God is already calling many people in the Hispanic world to bring the gospel… We must go, we must be brave and believe in God because he is going to open doors.”
» Read full story and watch video.
Source: Iran Alive Ministries, May 14, 2015
A movie actor named Arash [called] our counseling center. Arash described himself as “a money-loving and angry man who would do anything to acquire riches.” Arash went on to explain that his greed and anger cost him his friends [and] his career and ultimately left him depressed and despondent.
While flipping through the channels on his satellite TV one evening, Arash stumbled across our network. After several hours of listening to God’s Word, Arash came to understand that Jesus had a different purpose for his life.
In his living room, in front of his TV, Arash asked Christ into his heart and trusted him to forgive him of his sins and transform his life.
After a short period of time, Arash noticed that his greed was replaced with compassion and his anger with joy. Cautiously optimistic, he re-launched his acting career and has found it to be a great source of peace and a platform for sharing Christ with others.
» Read full story. You might also appreciate, from the same source, Jesus Visits Iranian Prisoner in His Dream and Sets Him Free!
Source: IMB Commission Stories, May 6, 2015
Miriam awoke from her Saturday nap on April 25 with a start. Since she was up, the elderly woman decided to start her daily noon prayer 15 minutes early.
The prayer was made up of the normal requests—asking God to give her husband health; watching over her adult son; tidbits from people requesting her intercession; and asking for her neighbors and her country of Nepal to know Jesus… [then] a loud noise cracked throughout the brick home.
“I thought it was a car,” the toothless woman said with a giggle one week after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake. “But then the house started shaking and everyone was screaming, ‘EARTHQUAKE! EARTHQUAKE!’”
Her husband came to get her out of the second-story bedroom, but she refused to move. She refused to stop praying. She knew that she, a leper with no fingers or legs, could do more good by praying to God for her country’s protection than going outside to safety. Her husband only argued once, then sat on the floor and joined her.
» Full story includes pictures, prayer points, and a brief video.
» Also check out this amazing collection of infographics on Nepal (Pinterest/GMI).
Source: World Watch Monitor, May 8, 2015
As hard-fought land battles continued during March and April, dozens of the displaced Assyrian families began fleeing Hassaka to resettle abroad. “The situation in Hassaka is bad and very fragile,” Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the East told World Watch Monitor. The clashes have now come close to the suburbs of Hassaka city, where the archbishops of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syriac Catholic Church are headquartered. Only 800 Christian families remain in the province, he said.
“Assyrian Christians are facing a danger that threatens their existence in their historical regions,” Youkhana told the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights in Brussels on April 23.
The future of Hassaka’s Christians became increasingly precarious after Syria’s revolution took an overt Islamist turn in 2013, once the Assad regime had pulled most of its army forces out of northeastern Syria.
An Assyrian doctor working in a government hospital in Qamishli told World Watch Monitor in late March that it was impossible to trust any of the sides fighting for control of Hassaka province.
In Beirut, Bishop Yatron Koliana of the Assyrian Church of the East sadly agreed. “We are fasting and praying that the governments of the world will not give weapons or facilitate things for the Islamic State and their allies,” he told World Watch Monitor. ”Sometimes we feel that Christians here are being sold for oil and gas. So we plead for prayers, that the big decision-makers will have mercy in their hearts to save us.”
» Read full story.
» Editor’s Note: Long-time Missions Catalyst readers know I like to look at holidays as bridges for sharing the gospel, and lately I’ve taken more of an interest in the traditions of our Orthodox brothers and sisters. Tomorrow (May 21) many celebrate Ascension Day. Not a big deal to most Christians, but it does mark the day Jesus gave us the Great Commission! See Ascension Day and the Great Commission (Orthodox-Reformed Bridge).
In This Issue: Responding to Terror
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).
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.
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).
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.