Missions Catalyst 1.16.13 – World News Briefs

In This Issue: Stories from the West Bank, Iran, Nepal, and more

  • WEST BANK: Christmas in Bethlehem
  • IRAN: Urgent Prayer Request
  • UGANDA: President Repents for Nation’s Sins
  • CENTRAL ASIA: Uzbek Pastor Released from Kazakh Prison
  • NEPAL: The Church Is Growing

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!

Shepherds' Fields, Beit Sahoir. Photo by Tbass Effendi (Creative Commons).
Shepherds’ Fields, Beit Sahoir. Photo by Tbass Effendi (Creative Commons).

Greetings!

After a sabbatical of some months it is great to be back in the saddle. I love being your news sleuth; I’ve missed you all! I’m happy to once again be sharing kingdom news. I hope you had a special Christmas and are feeling as refreshed as I am.
Usually after Christmas there’s an uptick in persecution. This year is no exception. Christians in Nigeria, Indonesia,
Sudan and Pakistan experienced violence as they celebrated Christmas. At the same time, Christmas was celebrated in unlikely places; see below.
Over two thousand years ago, “in the fullness of time,” some – from Anna in the temple to Zachariah’s whole village – understood that God was up to something big.
May you, too, sense that God is up to something BIG as you read about the Good News reaching unlikely places. Praise him, for “in the whole world [the gospel] is bearing fruit and increasing!” (Col. 1:6).
Pat Noble

WEST BANK: Christmas in Bethlehem 

Source: Christian Aid Mission, December 27, 2012

Tolerance for Christians and other minorities [in the West Bank] has faded in the wake of growing Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda violence. Many of the Christmas pageants and children’s programs were cancelled. In many places the usual decorations were stowed away, as Christians hid for their safety. Yet the week before Christmas over 1000 gathered from all over the West Bank in Shepherd’s Fields of Beit Sahoir, one mile south of Bethlehem, for a Christmas banquet … and 200 came forward to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, when Arab evangelist Victor Hashweh gave an invitation.

“This is the very place where angels appeared, declaring peace on earth and good will toward men,” said Alex Awad, organizer of the event, as young people gathered around the front stage, singing carols of praise and adoration to God in Arabic.

» Read full story with pictures.

» See also: Pakistan’s Loneliest Church Celebrates Christmas in Taliban Country (Reuters). And from Turkey, Turkish World Outreach reports that hundreds of Christians in Istanbul had an outdoor Christmas celebration for the first time in that city – and with official permission (see video clip).

IRAN: Urgent Prayer Request

Source: Paul Hattaway, Asia Harvest, January 10, 2013

A dear personal friend of mine is in trouble for no reason except that he loves and obeys Jesus Christ. His name is Saeed Abedini. He was born in Iran but is now a U.S. citizen. His wife Naghmeh is also a US citizen and they live with their two children in Idaho.

Despite being just 32 years old, Saeed has been instrumental in bringing many Iranian Muslims to the Lord, and has established numerous house churches throughout Iran.

He asked me to write his biography, and I was working on it when Saeed made one last trip back to Iran to say goodbye to his family. He knew that when his book came out it would be impossible for him to travel back to the country of his birth.

Before he met the Lord, Saeed was so depressed he wanted to commit suicide, and for a time he was trained by Hezbollah to be a suicide bomber. After he experienced salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, Saeed’s whole life was so dramatically transformed that he could not help but spread the Good News to as many people as possible.

In September Saeed was traveling on a bus near the Iranian border when Revolutionary Guards boarded the bus and dragged him off. He has been held for months while he waited for his case to come before the courts of Iran.

From the human level, there is little hope for Saeed. Indications have been given that he may be sentenced to 18 years in prison or possibly even given the death penalty. That is why I am asking you to pray. What politicians and the strength of men are unable to achieve, God can do!

» Full story with pictures. Read Saeed’s letter from prison. Watch the video A Letter from Prison (Hovsepian Ministries; 13 minutes long). Interviews start at 5:50 after the song.

» Other Iranian pastors have been arrested then temporarily released. Read about them at Mohabat News.

UGANDA: President Repents for Nation’s Sins

Source: OM Newsbytes, December-January 2013

As President Museveni celebrated Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain last month, he publicly repented of his personal sins and the sins of the nation. After thanking God for his country, he specifically confessed sins of idolatry and witchcraft, of political hypocrisy and pride, of corruption and bribery, along with many other sins. He asked God for forgiveness and a new beginning, dedicating Uganda to him.

» Full story. Read the president’s prayer and some additional commentary at Uganda’s President Publicly Repents for Nation’s Sins (Godreports).

» See also Sixty Ugandan Schools Join 24-7 Prayer (24-7 Prayer International).

CENTRAL ASIA: Uzbek Pastor Released from Kazakhstan Prison

Source: World Watch Monitor (formerly Compass Direct News), December 5, 2012

Uzbek pastor Makset Djabbarbergenov has been released from prison in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He was released December 4 and taken to the airport, where he was reunited with his wife and four children. They were flown to Germany [and then] taken to a safe location in another, unnamed European country.

His friends in Almaty told (religious rights group) Forum 18, “We need to thank the Kazakh government – they did the right thing.”

Makset was arrested in Almaty on September 5 on the request of his native Uzbekistan which wanted him to be returned to face charges that he practiced religion outside state regulation.

Djabbarbergenov became a Christian in 2000 and soon became an active church leader in Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan, the autonomous republic of Uzbekistan. At present, no Protestant church in Karakalpakstan has an official registration: they are considered illegal.

He was arrested six times and, following a police raid on his apartment in 2007, he and his family fled to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. He crossed into Kazakhstan the following month.

» Full story with picture. Learn more about this pastor and his story in a previous article.

NEPAL: The Church Is Growing

Source: Partners International, January 9, 2013

Sakuram is a pastor serving in a remote village of far western Nepal. His passion is to reach his own ethnic group, the Tharu, who are one of the most responsive groups in Nepal. Hundreds of churches have been planted among this group over the last few years. The district where they live has the highest church-growth rate in all of Nepal’s 75 districts.

After serving in ministry for some time, Sakuram felt the need to receive more formal training. After consulting the leaders of his church, he decided to come to the Tikapur Training Center operated by National Churches Fellowship of Nepal. Sakuram was one of the first students.

[November’s] graduates included eight men and five women who represent various church groups in three districts of Nepal. As part of their training, these men and women visited a remote place and preached the gospel to nearly 900 people. Forty percent had never heard the gospel before.

» Read full story. And join us in congratulating Partners International, founded in 1943, as they celebrate 70 years!

» See also: Nepali Christians Marked as Hindus in Census Manipulation (Barnabas Aid).

 

Pat Noble has been the “news sleuth” for Missions Catalyst since 2004. In addition to churning out the news, she is working to create a SWARM (Serving World A Regional Mobilizers) in Northern New York using the NorthernChristian.org website. You can connect with her at www.whatsoeverthings.com.

 

 

 

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