World News Briefs


saudi-Christmas-2Indian Christians celebrate Christmas in Saudi Arabia. Image: Open Doors.

In This Issue:

  1. ARAB WORLD: His First Christmas
  2. THAILAND: Christian Captives Set Free
  3. KENYA: “If the Witchdoctor Is Saved, Jesus Is Real”
  4. SAUDI ARABIA: Christmas in a Closed Country
  5. MIDDLE EAST: Working Out with Refugees


Don’t you love it when one of your favorite tunes gets rewritten with BETTER lyrics? It seems like heaven gets a hold of it and remakes it in the service of a greater truth. For example:

  • Did you know that the original melody of Hark the Herald Angels Sing was considered too somber so a new one was sought? Music written to celebrate the invention of the printing press was dusted off. Voila!
  • Everyone knows the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah.” Cloverton wrote Christ-focused lyrics that …well, just listen. Wow.
  • Finally, a gem I just found (thanks to OMF UK). Check out King’s Kaleidoscope’s All Glory be to Christ. Recognize the tune?

Merry Christmas!

ARAB WORLD: His First Christmas

Source: Pioneers-USA, December 2017

Remember the old chat rooms from the days when the Internet was new? That method of communication is still alive and well in the Arab world, and Pioneers use it every day to talk to Muslims.

Internet ads, social media posts and websites draw Arab Muslims who are curious about Christianity. And since the beginning of 2017, our responders have had the privilege of leading 427 to Christ. Many of these will be celebrating Christmas for the first time this year.

One of them, “Kasim,” wrote saying,

“I am 26 years old. I see light in Christianity and in Jesus, my salvation. The truth is my life is not a peaceful walk; it is full of doubts and things that do not suit me in the Muslim society. I am troubled about religion, the judgement day and many things that bother me … I saw the movie of Jesus and I was deeply touched by Jesus’ life and sacrifice … So I decided to walk in the path of Jesus… I hope you can help me to know more about Christianity, so that I may suffer less from the impact of the terror (the slaughtering and the killing) in the name of Islam. I almost became an atheist … I want to know more about Jesus. Thank you.”

[Kasim] is now following Christ and studying Matthew. The team is organizing local follow up and fellowship for Kasim, who lives in the Middle East.

Mark, who heads up this ministry team—Arab World Media—says, “Pray that they would experience peace and joy this Christmas, (their first as [believers]) despite the challenges they face.” Will you join us in praying for Kasim and the 426 other new Arab Christians as they celebrate the birth of Christ and grow in their new faith?

» Full story with picture. Another story from Pioneers reports how a Yemeni refugee in Turkey heard the gospel.

THAILAND: Christian Captives Set Free

Source: Christian Freedom International, December 14, 2017

The bad news came as Christian Freedom International’s volunteers were distributing food and provisions to refugees from Pakistan last month. A Christian family who is hiding in Thailand while seeking asylum was arrested while on the way to pick up the aid and food packet.

“We prayed together from the core of our heart,” said a CFI volunteer, “and in the evening we heard the good news that immigration released them. Really, it’s a miracle.”

The UN says over 11,000 Pakistanis are seeking asylum in Thailand. All of them are Christian, according to a report by British Parliamentarians who work on International Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The flood of Christians fleeing Pakistan began with the rise of terrorist attacks on churches and false accusations of blasphemy that fuel mob violence. Christians regularly face discrimination in jobs, the judicial system, education and housing.

While waiting on the UN to act on the backlog of requests for asylum, many have overstayed their visas. With no legal status in Thailand, they cannot work legally and many children are unable to attend school. They stay hidden in small, crowded apartments and survive on day-to-day jobs and donations.

» Full story with pictures.

» Readers might also be interested in reading about a recent evangelistic crusade in neighboring Vietnam (Christian Post).

KENYA: “If the Witchdoctor Is Saved, Jesus Is Real”

KENYA: “If the Witchdoctor Is Saved, Jesus Is Real”

Source: Global Disciples, via God Reports, December 15, 2017

[Global Disciples] recently had a report from Mutunga, who directs a discipleship-mission program in Kenya.

Some of the disciple-makers went to a remote region to share the gospel. And they met Lizabet, a single woman, who was also the local witchdoctor. But in conversation with her, they learned her son had been missing for five years. He had just disappeared! And there had been no word in all that time.

The disciple-makers shared the Word of God with her, told her about Jesus, and prayed with her, especially for her lost son.

Sometime later, the team got word that Lizabet’s son had returned. So they went back to see the family.

Having seen how Jesus heard and answered the prayer for her son, Lizabet was eager to put her faith in Jesus for salvation. She gave up being a witchdoctor, discarding her old ways, and now she hosts a new fellowship in her home. And people are getting saved each week!

Now the word in her village is that “if the son is back and the witchdoctor is saved, then Jesus is real.”

For that, we give glory to God. Thanks to work of Jesus, his Son, a lost son came home, and a witchdoctor was transformed, as a church is being planted!

» Read full story, and go to the original source for more stories like this from Kenya and other locations.

SAUDI ARABIA: Christmas in a Closed Country

Source: Open Doors, December 15, 2017

It’s night in one of Saudi Arabia’s cities. The streets are empty. Two Indian men can be seen walking on the sidewalk. When they knock on a nondescript door, it is opened and immediately closed behind them.

Inside, they take off their shoes and enter a meeting room decorated with Christmas stars and garlands. They join a handful of worshippers already there. Over the next hour, over a hundred or more Indian believers will arrive here to celebrate Christmas.

Most of them have low-paying jobs in large Saudi companies or households; they are construction workers, stone cutters, electricians and cleaners. But tonight, there are no differences between them: these men and women are followers of Christ about to be encouraged and then sent back into the world with a calling to spread the light of Jesus everywhere they go.

When the celebrations begin, there’s no doubt that this is an Indian celebration. The instruments, the music; when you close your eyes you feel as if you’re right in the heart of India. Taking turns, many of the worshippers sing worship songs in their mother tongue, glorifying God who sent his Son into the world.

» Read full story.

» Also worth noting: Christian Schools in India Warned Against Celebrating Christmas (International Christian Concern).

MIDDLE EAST: Working Out with Refugees

Source: Frontiers UK, November 29, 2017

Last year, our team started a fitness class for Syrian women in a Middle Eastern refugee camp. It meets several times a week, with over fifty women in every class.

They are so dedicated that they come even when it’s over one hundred degrees—with no fans or air conditioning!

It’s been a joy to watch the women take part in the class over the months. They’ve come alive, and many are experiencing healing from trauma. For example, one woman said that she hadn’t felt joy since the loss of her newborn child last year. Since joining the fitness class, her hope and joy are returning.

After we’d been leading the fitness class for several months, we realized that we could make an even greater impact in the community. Even though the refugee women were thankful for the help, they didn’t want to always be on the receiving end. They wanted to give back and bless others.

More importantly, they are discovering the One who is the source of joy and hope.

We recently invited our trainees to discover Jesus through God’s Word. We’ve been meeting together every week to hear from the Gospels and encourage one another to live out Jesus’ commands.

They love what they are learning and are showing signs of becoming a community that prays together, supports one another, and cares for others.

» Read full story with prayer points and another from Frontiers, The Christmas Treasure, in which a family serving in Central Asia reflect on keeping Christmas in a place where Christ is not known.