Missions Catalyst 08.10.11 – Resource Reviews

In This Issue: Voices of Hope

  • BOOK: Surprising Good News about the State of Our World
  • BOOK: Restoring Hope to Europe
  • ARTICLES: Global Analysis
  • DVD SET: Dispatches from the Front
  • EVENTS: Conferences, Conversations, and Classes from Our Calendar

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!

Resource Reviews, edited by Marti Smith, are published once a month.


Running low on hope? Bad news may be easier to find than good news – it grabs our attention, taps into our fears, and mobilizes us to respond. Yet sometimes it comes with a cost. As Bradley Wright says in his new book Upside (reviewed below), “The problem with which we’ve had the most trouble seems to be pessimism – we believe that life is getting worse no matter how much it improves.”

This week’s Missions Catalyst introduces several new resources you may find more hopeful, encouraging, and helpful. For a deeper look at the Bible’s teachings on hope and how they can change your life, I’d also recommend The Hope Experience.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)



BOOK: Surprising Good News about the State of Our World

Source: Bethany House

Upside: Surprising Good News about the State of Our World, by Bradley Wright. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2011. 256 pages.

From the publisher’s website:

“It’s easy to get discouraged or feel paralyzed by what you hear about the terrible state of the world. But what if the media and other prophets of doom have misled us? Could the world actually be getting better?

“The answers … and the facts behind them … may surprise you: Extreme poverty has been cut in half since the 1980s in developing countries. Life expectancy has doubled around the world over the last 100 years. Literacy rates have soared from 25% to over 80% over the same period.

“Sociologist Brad Wright uses the best available data to uncover the truth about the world’s most important issues, including poverty, sickness, education, morality, and the environment. While admitting there is still work to be done, he shines a light on why so many things are improving and why no one is talking about it.”

I’d say this book’s breezy style makes it readable and encouraging, while its careful research and documentation suggest it’s a reliable resource for teachers, speakers, and writers. I’m holding onto my copy!

One disclaimer, though: For some of our readers, what may be the biggest downside to Upside is that while it includes some data about “the whole world,” it is primarily written to an American audience and about the state of the United States.

>> Learn more or purchase Upside for US$9.99 from Christian Book Distributors (or elsewhere). See also Bradley Wright’s blog and his recent article, Americans Like Evangelicals After All (Christianity Today).

BOOK: Restoring Hope to Europe

Source: Operation Mobilization

Europe: Restoring Hope, by Deborah Meroff. Linz, Austria: OM Books and VTR Publications, 2011. 306 pages.

For more than 20 years London-based photojournalist Debbie Meroff has traveled the world reporting on how God is working through his people. Now she sets her sights on Europe. Commissioned by OM’s area leaders to help put this continent back on the map for world Christians, Meroff draws on the experiences and insights of those serving across OM’s diverse ministries and other organizations and ministry teams to paint a picture of what is being done to restore hope to the peoples of Europe, especially for those with the greatest needs.

Europe: Restoring Hope tells stories of Christians caring for the marginalized (including the poor, immigrants and refugees, gypsies, victims of human trafficking, those affected by HIV/AIDS, and more); loving Muslims; empowering children and young people; reaching secular and nominally Christian Europeans; and partnering with the church. The book calls God’s people to work together and provides the examples and information to motivate and equip them to do so.

With such a broad mandate, there is something for everyone – though most stories and subtopics get between a few paragraphs and a few pages. In addition to numerous statistics and extensive resource lists in each section, a 60-page appendix lists hundreds of ministries, websites, and books related to topics the book covers.

>> Purchase for US$15 from OM USA bookstore or find it on Amazon in the country where you live. OM reports that translations into Portuguese, Spanish, German, and Dutch are underway. Find another review here. Readers might also be interested in browsing the website Hope for Europe.

ARTICLES: Global Analysis

Source: Justin Long

The Long View is published by Justin Long as a subscriber-only newsletter. Sign up and you’ll receive a number of long-form analysis pieces examining current regional and global trends and events impacting the church, missions, and the task of world evangelization.

Most subscriptions are $9.95/month. Ask Justin about bulk subscriptions at a reduced rate and discounts for field workers, too.

Justin’s work gathering and analyzing information related to missions may save you a lot of time in keeping up with current events, putting them in context, and communicating with others. (For example, we at Missions Catalyst depend on curators like Justin to help us serve you!)

>> Explore the website or subscribe.

DVD SET: Dispatches from the Front

Source: Frontline Missions

Have you heard about Dispatches from the Front? Produced by Frontline Missions International, each episode follows executive producer and writer Tim Keesee as he travels to a different corner of the world – another region on the “frontlines” of Christian missions. So far there are four episodes.

As the title suggests, these videos represent “dispatches,” a journal of Keesee’s travels and firsthand accounts of what he’s seeing, hearing, and experiencing. Episodes are further divided into scenes that might stand on their own as part of a presentation. A series of thoughtful discussion questions are included on each disk.

Episode 1: Islands on the Edge (2009). Stories from Southeast Asia. 50 minutes long.

Episode 2: A Bold Advance (2010). Stories from Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro. 54 minutes long.

Episode 3: I Once Was Blind (2010). Stories from West Africa. 62 minutes long.

Episode 4: Souls of the Brave (2011). Stories from India. 57 minutes long.

The series is at its strongest when it tells the stories of believers in each location, allowing them to share how they came to Christ or showing how they are growing and ministering to those around them – sometimes in spite of fierce opposition or very difficult circumstances. These stories are moving and beautiful.

Some scenes might not be suitable for all audiences. I would hesitate to watch these DVDs with someone who is not like-minded. They show little restraint in mocking and sometimes demonizing local conditions, cultures, and religions. For example, in describing a visit to a temple in Calcutta, Keesee writes, “What a miserable place this is. The air is thick with fear, and smoke, and evil, like opening a furnace door to hell.” Each episode includes stories from the region’s darkest corners, “that the light might shine more brightly.”

The result, though, is poignant and challenging.

>> Learn more about each DVD and view trailers. You can also purchase the DVDs separately (US$15 each) or as a set (US$50) from Pioneers.

EVENTS: Conferences, Conversations, and Classes from Our Calendar

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

New items on our calendar include:

September 05 to December 04 – Course: Encountering the World of Islam (online). Twelve-week course will help you discover God’s heart for Muslims. Autumn classes are also planned for 10 cities across the US and UK.

September 06 to 09 – 4/14 Global Summit (Singapore). Global strategies for reaching children ages 4 to 14.

September 16 to 18 – Conference: World Mandate (Waco, TX, USA). Annual international missions conference put on by Antioch Community Church.

September 18 to 22 – Prayer Initiative for North Korea (international).

October 15 – Ethne Cafe UNconference (Jaffrey, NH, USA). A participant-driven conversation about the Great Commission.

October 20 to 30 – Commonwealth Prayer Assembly (Perth, Australia). Focused on prayer for the 54 countries of the Commonwealth of Nations.

November 03 to 04 – Conference: Finishers Forum (Boulder, CO, USA). Designed to help you find your fit in missions.

November 11 to 12 – Conference: Mission Catalyst Inland Northwest (Spokane, WA, USA). Community-wide mission conference.

November 11 to 13 – Retreat: The Journey Deepens (Littleton, CO, USA). Explore becoming a missionary.

We’ve also added to our calendar eight webinars from The Mission Exchange and nine more from CrossGlobal Link.

>> View complete calendar.


Marti SmithMarti Smith is a writer, speaker, and project manager for Pioneers. Since the mid-90′s she has helped prepare cultural research teams and sent them out to explore unreached communities and mobilize efforts to serve these groups. Marti manages and publishes Missions Catalyst and is the author of Through Her Eyes, a book about the lives of missionary women in the Muslim world.



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