Missions Catalyst 03.04.09 – World News Briefs

In This Issue: Kenya, Belarus, Sudan, and More

  • USA – One in Three Evangelical Leaders in Contact with Muslims
  • BELARUS – Danes Deported for Praying in Church
  • SUDAN – New Outreach to Beja People
  • DUBAI – A Spiritual Oasis in the Muslim World
  • KENYA – Nairobi’s South Asians Respond to Prayer

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!

World News Briefs, edited by Pat Noble, are published twice a month.

Circulation update: 466 new subscribers so far in 2009, including 23 from a Perspectives class in El Paso, TX (Bienvenidos!)

USA – One in Three Evangelical Leaders in Contact with Muslims

Source: The Christian Post, February 19, 2009

A surprisingly small portion of evangelical leaders in America have had contact with Muslims in the past year, a new survey revealed.

Only 33 percent of leaders on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals, the nation’s largest evangelical body, said they have had a serious conversation with a Muslim in the past year, according to the February issue of the NAE’s Evangelical Leaders Survey.

An even a smaller number, 27 percent, of the evangelical respondents said they live or work near a mosque. The vast majority have had no close contact with an Islamic institution (73 percent) or individual Muslims (67 percent).

“Several who said they have not talked with Muslims expressed regret and want to have conversations,” commented Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

“The large majority of evangelical leaders who have not experienced Islam first-hand are either ignorant of Islam or are getting their information from secondary sources,” he said. “I assume that the reverse is also true; that a majority of Muslims are neither connected to nor informed about the faith of evangelical Christians.”

Full story here.

Editor’s note: Explore the world of Islam with other Christians through Encountering the World of Islam or the Bridges study.

BELARUS – Danes Deported for Praying in Church

Source: Forum18, February 11, 2009

Two Danish citizens, Erling Laursen and Rolf Bergen, face deportation for taking part in worship services in Gomel’s [Homyel] charismatic Living Faith Church. Neither of the two led the services. “We were reading and speaking from the Bible, greeting the people, and praying together. Then the police came and took us to the police station,” Laursen told Forum 18 from Gomel, southeastern Belarus, on February 10. “They said we broke the law because we were spreading religious ideas.”

Bergen’s February 7 deportation order states that he expressed “ideas of a religious nature,” although [he was] not invited to Belarus to conduct religious activity. While this is said to be in violation of the restrictive 2002 Religion Law, no article of the law is cited.

These deportations bring to 31 the number of foreign citizens barred from Belarus in recent years because of their religious activity.

Full story here.

SUDAN – New Outreach to Beja People

Source: Operation Mobilization Headlines, February 16-22, 2009

During a Christian women’s conference in Sudan last year, participants were challenged to share their faith and reach out and minister to other women. They were especially encouraged to go to the Beja people, a nomadic people living near Port Sudan in the northeastern part of the country. More than 70 women went and distributed 3,000 cassette tapes that shared the Gospel in the Beja language.

One Beja family who received a cassette wanted to learn more, so they came to Port Sudan and visited the local Catholic Church. The priest phoned “William,” a believer working in the area, and asked him to meet with the family. William began a relationship with the family, ministering to them and personally living out the Gospel among the Beja people.

William and his family are part of a small group of workers from different organizations currently ministering to the Beja people.

Sign up for OM Headlines here.

Editor’s note: Read more about the Beja people at Joshua Project.

As this edition of Missions Catalyst is created, many are praying for Sudan. The International Criminal Court will decide March 4 if the country’s President Bashir will be held accountable for genocide. The Court’s press release can be found here.

Many anticipate great civil unrest either way; read about it in the LA Times.

DUBAI – A Spiritual Oasis in the Muslim World

Source: Joel News 675, February 25, 2009

Religious discrimination and persecution is [often] a harsh reality for many Christians living in the Middle East. But in one Muslim country, Christians are experiencing unusual favor from government authorities: Dubai, one of seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates. It’s home to King’s Revival International Church, the largest of its kind in the Middle East.

The church’s pastor, Dr. V. Dilkumar, moved as an engineer to Dubai from Sri Lanka in 1991. He started a small house church with seven people, which over the past 18 years has grown out to some 7,000 members and 24 pastors. Thousands join church activities in a multitude of languages seven days a week. There are 31 churches operating across the country on land given to them by the government.

Of the population in the UAE 76% is Muslim and Islam is the official religion of the land. The government allows non-Muslim religions to flourish, provided they don’t share the Gospel with Muslims and don’t print Bibles or evangelistic materials.

Those who convert away from Islam face harsh penalties. So most of the church’s outreach is to the non-Muslim population. Even in a “spiritual oasis” there are still restrictions to the freedom of religion.

Sign up for Joel News here.

KENYA – Nairobi’s South Asians Respond to Prayer

Source: Erich Bridges, Baptist Press, February 19, 2009

“Phillip” and his wife “Sarah,” veteran Southern Baptist workers, started many churches among indigenous people in East Africa. In each place, however, they’ve met spiritually hungry South Asians who own many businesses in the region. Now they focus on South Asians exclusively.

“We enjoyed our work with [black] Africans, and we’ve had a lot of response, but our heart just went out to the South Asians because they were lost,” Phillip explains. “I said to our African brothers, ‘I love you. You’ve had the opportunity to hear the Gospel for 40 years. I’m compelled to go to people who have not had the opportunity. Pray for us.'”

Some 200,000 South Asians from more than 40 distinct people groups live in Nairobi. About 80 percent are Hindus with roots in India’s Gujarat state, Phillip estimates. The groups also include Muslims, Sikhs, and Jains from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere. Some are relatively new arrivals to Kenya. Others have roots going back generations to the birth of Nairobi during the construction of the Mombasa-Uganda railway a century ago.

South Asians wield major economic power in Kenya. Many live in the city’s affluent neighborhoods and gated communities. You’ll find them in businesses and restaurants at upscale shopping centers such as Diamond Plaza, known as “Little India.”

They’re close-knit, hardworking, family-oriented, and self-sufficient, with their own temples, mosques, schools, health facilities, clubs, and temples.

Full story with pictures here.
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