In This Issue: Like an unexpected summer rain
- GERMANY: Iranian Converts Bring Life to German Church
- NETHERLANDS: The Refugee Church
- WORLD: New Tool for Isolated Pastors
- SAUDI ARABIA: 53 Ethiopian Christians Arrested
- BALKANS: A Holy Discourse
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GERMANY: Iranian Converts Bring Life to German Church
Source: ASSIST News Service, December 31, 2012
“It came like an unexpected summer rain,” church deaconess Rosemarie Gotz said. “Suddenly new people started coming every week and asked to be baptized.”
“In the beginning only five or six Iranians came. They were easy to spot and we got to know them,” she continued. “And then over time they brought their friends and neighbors.”
“Most of them became Christians in Iran and know more about Christianity than you would expect,” she said. “They’re ahead of us in a sense because they have already been persecuted for Christ, and they figured out really quickly that a lot of Germans are Christians in name only. And they’re disappointed that Germans take religious freedom for granted.”
Some Germans are suspicious of the conversions because being baptized can help a refugee stay in Germany rather than be deported. So Gotz makes the Persian converts go through a rigorous schedule of Bible classes.
“I did suspect that some of them just wanted to be baptized so they could get their residency in Germany, but that has turned out to be the case with only a few,” she said.
» Readers might be interested in this story from Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Next Door to a Mosque, Church Learns to Minister to Muslims (Baptist Press).
NETHERLANDS: The Refugee Church
Source: Joel News International #847, January 30, 2013
In the Netherlands, the number of asylum seekers who have been refused permission to stay in the country but cannot be expelled because their home countries are unsafe or won’t cooperate has increased significantly. Many of these refugees have nowhere to go and camp out on the streets. Early December a tented camp in the Osdorp district of Amsterdam was disbanded on the orders of a court after municipal authorities raised concerns about safety, health, and hygiene as winter approached.
Young Christians in Amsterdam then took the initiative to [take over] a disused church building and turn it into “The Refugee Church.” The building is now a winter refuge for 100 refugees from Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan. The Refugee Church’s motto: “We are here. No human being is illegal.”
As soon as word got out on social media, donations, bedding, equipment, and volunteers arrived from across the country. The owner of the church, a real estate developer, has agreed to put up the refugees until the spring.
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» Migrations within a country’s borders also create opportunities for ministry. Read about the Factory Church in China (Chinese Church Voices).
UNITED STATES: Leveraging Technology for Ministry among the Unreached
Source: Mobile Ministry Forum, February 15, 2013
With 119 participants representing nearly 60 ministries and missions, the third annual Mobile Ministry Forum Consultation, held at the Orlando headquarters of Wycliffe Bible Translators, was a pivotal time to see how mobile technology is currently, and can yet be, more fully leveraged for the building of God’s Kingdom among the unreached.
Keynote presentations and workshops covered a diversity of topics and many were video recorded and are now available to view online.
» Read the executive summary, which includes links to conference resources and presentations.
» See also Arab Training Camp Teaches Love Not Hate (Godreports). Participants received an SC microchip loaded with ministry files in Arabic. Read about a new phone strategy in MAF’s New Tool Brings Biblical Resources to Isolated Pastors (Mission Network News).
SAUDI ARABIA: 53 Ethiopian Christians Arrested
Source: WEA Religious Liberty Commission, February 11, 2013
Saudi authorities on February 8 arrested 53 Ethiopian Christians, mostly women, who were attending a worship service in the private, rented home of an Ethiopian believer in Dammam, the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, WEA-RLC has learned from sources inside the Arab kingdom.
The Christians – 46 women and six men, including three church leaders – were arrested at about 10 a.m., a close relative of one of those arrested told WEA-RLC. The three church leaders [appeared] in an Islamic court in Dammam the same day, when authorities alleged they were converting Muslims to Christianity, the source added.
Authorities are likely to release two of the Ethiopian Christians who have residential permits, and the others are expected to be deported.
Dammam, a center for petroleum and natural gas and all commerce in the eastern parts of the kingdom, is a large metropolitan, industrial area and a major seaport. However, religious freedom is not granted to the numerous visitors or expatriates in the region, [as they are] elsewhere in the nation.
» Full story.
BALKANS: A Holy Discourse
Source: Pioneers BottomLine Update, February 2013
I found the house that I was looking for in a remote area outside of my city here in the Balkans. I knocked. They ushered me into a room with about 35 Muslim men sitting on the floor in a half circle. I had come there in search of a zikr service, which is a meeting of mystical Muslims seeking closeness to God.
As part of my research, I try to attend various Muslim meetings. I am also always in search of “people of peace,” non-believers who are receptive to the gospel message and may be influencers in their own communities.
I expected to sit quietly in a corner somewhere to listen and observe, because that is usually what happens when I attend a Muslim meeting. But the man sitting across from me, the spiritual leader of the group, addressed me: “We were deciding which topic to discuss tonight when we heard your knock on the door. We believe Allah sent you to us. We would like to ask you what you want to say to the group.” I was uncomfortable – and somewhat fearful – as the entire group of men stared at me in absolute silence.
Regardless of my fears, I proceeded to engage the leader in a conversation that would last for two and a half hours. The other men sat watching in silence while smoking.
» Full story.
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.