WORLD: How Do Christians Respond to Persecution?

Under Caesar's SwordThe documentary Under Caesar’s Sword documentary reports the findings of the global research project on Christian responses to persecution.

Though global persecution of Christians has been well documented, the response of global Christians to attacks has not been as well researched. Under Caesar’s Sword is “the world’s first systematic global investigation into the responses of Christian communities to persecution,” including country-by-country analysis, global patterns, and recommendations.

» Download the report and related resources from the University of Notre Dame, or read Here’s the Million-Dollar Answer to How Persecuted Christians Persevere (Christianity Today).

TAJIKISTAN: Christian Songs and Books Lead to Arrest for Extremism

Source: Forum 18, April 28, 2017

The NSC secret police in Khujand arrested Protestant pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov on April 10 after raiding his church and seizing Christian literature. Officials claim songbooks and the book More Than a Carpenter are “extremist.” The pastor is being investigated on “extremism” criminal charges.

The NSC secret police asserts that the songs “Praise God, oh the godless country,” “God’s army is marching,” “Our fight is not against flesh and blood,” are “extremist.” Protestants pointed out that the words of these songs are references to texts of the Bible. Officers told church members during interrogations that these songs are “extremist and call on the people to overthrow the government.”

» Read full story.

» See also Tajikistan Opens A New Chapter: No Books Allowed In Or Out Without Approval (Radio Free Europe) and Young Professionals Quietly Transforming Muslim-Majority Central Asia for Christ (Christian Broadcasting Network).

CAMBODIA: The Shepherd Who Goes after His Sheep

Source: OMF International, April 28, 2017

It was Good Friday and I was driving home after dark with Lai, my house helper, and her four children on our way back from picnicking at a waterfall. Shortly into the drive, on a quiet forested road, I saw a young tribal woman. She was maybe 16 years old, barefooted, and carrying a baby. I stopped the car and asked Lai to approach the girl to see if we could help drive her somewhere.

Through the windows, I saw something like a heated exchange happening, so I got out of the car to see what the problem was. The young girl was hysterical. Through heavy sobs, she was telling Lai how she was fleeing her husband, a drug dealer, who had been beating her. She was trying to get to her parents’ village, but it was so far and she could hardly walk anymore. We told her not to be afraid, but to let us drive her to where she needed to go. She sat in the front of the car with Lai, who held the girl in her arms and told her that Jesus knows all about her suffering and dearly loves her. “I know,” the girl replied. “I was just praying to him. I said to him, ‘If you really love me, Jesus, if you really, really love me, you will not make me walk all this way to my parents’ house.’ Then your car came!”

The girl explained how she had once known Jesus but had left her faith two years ago when she married her husband. “When I was a believer I was happy,” she told us. “Since I left Jesus, my life has been very bad.” Lai lovingly ministered to the girl, giving her advice on what she needed to do to repent and start afresh with God. “Yes,” the girl replied, “I want to start again with God.” We left her in the embrace of her Christian family who thanked us heartily as their daughter, still sobbing, explained how God had heard her prayer and sent us to rescue her.

As I meditated that night on what had happened, it dawned on me that I had just witnessed something like the parable of the lost son unfolding before my eyes. I went to bed that night praising God that though the sheep may wander, the shepherd graciously goes after them.

» Read full story and another from OMF about a former witch doctor and her struggles to walk with God.

» Also pray for Hmong families in neighboring Laos who have been expelled from their village because of their faith (Voice of the Martyrs).

WORLD: Sign Language Bible Translation Gains New Standards

Source: Mission Network News, May 1, 2017

“Hearing organizations have been doing Bible translation for hundreds of years, but it’s only been within the past 20 or 30 years that sign language Bible translation has even been considered, or even begun to take place,” says Rob Myers of DOOR International.

Thanks to the work of DOOR and several other Deaf ministries, “We now have standards for sign language Bible translation that all organizations should be following.”

“[Sign language Bible translation is] probably going to be one of the biggest needs in fulfilling the Great Commission and fulfilling this idea that every people group needs a Bible in their heart language,” Myers notes.

» Read full story and learn about some of the new standards. Another MNN article describes unique struggles Deaf Christians may face.

MEXICO: Reaching Tribal Villagers

Source: Christian Aid Mission, April 20, 2017

In an area of southern Mexico that for centuries has shielded itself from all foreign influence, including the Spanish conquest, a tribal villager who decided to follow Jesus quickly met with hostility from family and friends.

The animist villagers in southern Oaxaca State reproached Reynaldo for abandoning the cosmology of his ancestors—a worldview in which trees, rocks, and other elements of nature were imbued with volatile spirits.

“In many cases I didn’t even know why I was doing the animist rituals, except ‘to not anger the spirits,’ and a life full of doing that never fulfilled me,” he said before being baptized recently. “Now I’ve decided to follow the Lord whatever the cost.”

“These are people that have resisted Western influence for 500 years—to reach them, it takes an average of seven to 10 years,” said [Mariano, an indigenous missionary]. “You have to give your life to the work, and eventually you’ll be accepted by the community, and they’ll give you some land to work and a place in their society.”

Oaxaca is said to be the most ethnically diverse entity in the world; in one 36-square mile area of the state, more than 200 languages and dialects are spoken. Half of the indigenous language-speaking people in Oaxaca do not speak Spanish.

» Read full story.

» Readers, have you heard that another ministry that serves among tribal peoples has just changed its name? New Tribes Mission is now Ethnos360.