Practical Mobilization


Kids soccer teamImage: Flikr / Penn State News

Warm Weather Welcome: Seven Ways You Can Make this Summer Soar for New Americans

By Shane Bennett

Editor’s note: Several of the ideas in this month’s Practical Mobilization column are US-specific, though with a little creativity, most can be adapted to other settings.

Here in the northern hemisphere, summer is just around the corner: Long days, warm nights, and no school. Schedules often get a change up this time of year. The seasonal shift closes some doors, but opens some interesting other ones.

What if you decided to do something different this year? What if you wove into your summer plans creative efforts to extend care to some of the most overlooked people in your city? If you wedge into your summer schedule some time with refugees and others from outside America (or your country), a few things may happen: Some precious people will experience God’s blessing, your life will be richer for the experience and effort, and your kids will learn a few swear words in a new language!

To get started, you’ll want to find two things: info about where refugees live near you and some friends to join you. Check out this helpful map to see what refugee agencies work where. Contact them to find out who’s coming to your town, who’s already at work to serve refugees, and how you and your friends can help.

To gather allies? Encourage your church to recognize National Refugee Sunday on June 26th. Then show the amazing film, The Good Lie to further sensitize your church to the challenges refugees face settling into a new country. Pass around a sign-up sheet or pay attention to who attends so you can follow up with specific invitations and ways to respond.

1. Host a Sports Clinic

Draft some high school students from the youth group to host a four-day intro to American sports. Spend a day each on football, baseball, and basketball. On day four, allow participants to double down on their favorite sport, then award certificates. Know a famous, or even marginally famous, sports figure? Ask them to show up early in the week to build interest or to attend a special wrap-up event.

2. Arrange a Muslim Awareness Day

Here’s an idea that would work great with families. Set aside a day to open your minds and hearts to Muslims in your city. Begin with an hour or so of introduction to Islam. If you can’t find someone better, you can do this! Check out Fouad Masri’s book, Ambassadors to Muslims for accessible fodder for training. In pairs, hit the streets of the densest Muslim neighborhood you can find for two to three hours of fun with a cultural scavenger hunt. The basic idea is to nudge your friends into conversations with Muslims. Here’s a sample from Amsterdam. Tally up the points and pick a winner over lunch at a pre-arranged ethnic restaurant. Round out the day with a guided tour of a local mosque and a solid hour to debrief the day’s experiences.

3. Organize a Foreign-friendly VBS

If your city has lot of kids from somewhere else (and a correspondingly high number of tired moms who raise them!), you may want to consider hosting a Vacation Bible School program. Some standard VBS activities translate easily from culture to culture, like that relay where you pop balloons with your bum! That’s global fun! Others, however, might be best left in the closet if your participants are Muslim, not Methodist. I’m thinking of the Salvation Story Bead Bracelet and the Macaroni Cross Craft, which might not go over so well when kids take them home. A brilliant friend and practitioner in the Southwestern US has developed a VBS curriculum that’s biblical, fun, and still honoring to Muslim kids and their parents. She’s had kids come back year after year and parents happily participate in closing celebration events. Email me for a copy of the curriculum.

4. Start a Summer Reading Group

Maybe your own kids are all you want to wrangle this summer. How about pulling together a reading group for adults? Raise some funds to hire baby sitters, advertise around refugee centers and neighborhoods, then get together for an hour to practice reading. Depending on the composition of the group, you may want to keep it pretty simple. If English language capacity is sufficient, I’d recommend Leif Enger’s Peace like a River for a group read. It’s funny, poignant, and has a description of heaven that never fails to make me cry. Plenty of great stuff to talk about.

5. Visit the Farm

Gather twenty to thirty refugee kids and parents, secure the necessary permissions, insurance, and vehicles, then get out of the city! Find a farm with some animals to pet, some work to do, and a kindly old farming couple who tell great stories! If you can’t find a kindly old farmer, a ride on a tractor is a close second. If you return home with bushels of free zucchini, there’s a good chance you found a farm in Indiana.

6. Head to the Hills with International Students

America in the summer is magical. But if your home is China or Saudi Arabia, it can be a challenging time. Check with a local university to see if they’ll help you link up with international students who are staying over the summer. Invite a carload of them on a hike to a nearby mountain, wetland, or forest. Hit up a local eatery on the way home.

7. Fasting and Fireworks

When we were newly arrived in England a dear Afghan family from down the road invited us to shoot fireworks with them to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. The commemoration, as fascinating as it is, meant little to either them or us. But I’ll never forget the warmth and kindness I felt at being invited to share it with them.

This year’s Ramadan fast ends on July 5th. Can I encourage you to invite a Muslim family over on July 4th to eat (after the sun has set) and watch some fireworks with you? If they’re newcomers, it’s a great time to humbly share about America. It’s also a good time to learn about Ramadan and celebrate its near completion.


I’m grateful to God that he’s bringing the nations to our neighborhoods. Success to you as you seek to be a good neighbor this summer. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking about doing to make this summer soar for newcomers. Please share your ideas with us on Facebook, Twitter, or through comments on our website.

World News Briefs


Missions Catalyst News Briefs 5.4.16

  1. BURKINA FASO: Celebrating the San Bible
  2. CHILE: Christian Churches Set Ablaze
  3. PACIFIC RIM: Mobilizing Pacific Islanders
  4. INDIA: Blacksmith Paid to Make Iron Crosses Learns Their Meaning
  5. WORLD: The Portable Gospel and a Portable Dental Chair


In our last edition of News Briefs, we lauded Jordan for being the most hospitable nation (most refugees as a percentage of their population). This week I read that this region is also a place where sex trafficking is big business. CryOut reports from Lebanon that a large ring has been dismantled by security forces. (Praise God)!

So often the news reminds me of Fortunately, a favorite children’s story that starts like this:

“Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.
“Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.
“Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.
“Unfortunately, the motor exploded.
“Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.
“Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.”

Although much of this week’s news goes back and forth, we have this: Fortunately, God’s story ends gloriously for those who know and love him!

Say with me, “Come, Lord Jesus.”


Come Lord Jesus lyric video

Come, Lord Jesus (Lyric Video). Redemption City Church, Franklin, TN.

BURKINA FASO: Celebrating the San Bible

Source: United Bible Societies, April 18, 2016

“To have the whole Bible in San is for us a victory over the Enemy and over obscurantism. More and more Samo people (who speak San) are learning to read, and now they will be able to read God’s Word in their own language.”

These are the words of Thomas Traoré, President of the Eglise de l’Alliance Chrétienne (Church of the Christian Alliance) of Burkina Faso, at the publication of the first Bible in San—a language spoken by more than 230,000 people. The new Bible was dedicated in February, in Toma, Nayala Province, and was welcomed with great joy by the Christian community with prayers, singing, and dancing.

Work on translating the New Testament was started in 1982 by American missionary Richard Phillips and was later continued by the Bible Society and SIL. The New Testament was published in 1996, and work on the Old Testament began two years later.

“God speaks San and wants to talk to you in your language, so put your new Bible to good use,” [General Secretary of the Bible Society of Burkina Faso] Mr. Dramane Yankiné told the gathering of Samo Christians, urging them to use it as a tool to build their faith and to improve their literacy skills.

“The translation of the Word of God is in accord with the Spirit of Pentecost, when the apostles spoke in the mother tongues of the people around them,” he noted. “There is no sacred language in which God communicates; God speaks to each person in his or her language in order to be understood.”

» See full story with pictures.

» You might also enjoy reading about encouraging developments with access to the Bible in the West Africa’s Wolof language (SIM). On the other hand, please pray for Christians in Uzbekistan recently imprisoned and tortured, apparently for illegal possession of Christian literature (Forum 18 News Service).

CHILE: Christian Churches Set Ablaze

Source: Worthy News, April 11, 2016

Last month two churches in Chile were set ablaze by supporters of the Mapuche—a Chilean movement that seeks to rid the region of religions contrary to their own indigenous beliefs.

According to International Christian Concern, the church attacks were two of five other arsons that occurred within 24 hours.

In the first attack, the Catholic Church of Santa Joaquina in the commune of Padre Las Casas was torched. Hours later an evangelical church—the Christian Union in Antinao—was also set afire. A pamphlet found at the site read: “We are going to burn all churches” and demanded that all Mapuche political prisoners be released.

» Read full story. See also related stories in Christian Times and Reuters.

» Readers might also be interested in an ASSIST News Service story about the Gathering of Nations, a native-American event that brings together 700 North American tribes (and some committed to native American ministry).

PACIFIC RIM: Mobilizing Pacific Islanders

Source: SIM, April 22, 2016

The Pacific Island communities in New Zealand and the Pacific are beginning to rise up and go into the nations, proclaiming the gospel, demonstrating God’s love and power. We are seeking to journey with this nascent movement, Pacific2Nations, to mobilize the church to longer-term involvement in cross-cultural mission.

Please pray for:

  • The teams and individuals receiving Kairos training and beginning to explore overseas mission opportunities.
  • Pastors to continue to open their eyes to the need and the call and encourage their people to be involved in overseas mission.
  • Many more Pacific Islanders to accept the challenge to be involved in God’s mission to the nations.

» Read full story and pray for the next Pacific2Nations event, near Sydney, Australia, May 27-28. Live near there? Check it out. It’s free.

INDIA: Blacksmith Paid to Make Iron Crosses Learns Their Meaning

Source: God Reports, May 2, 2016

He was the only blacksmith in his village in India, making plows and other farming instruments. He usually was paid with food and rarely received cash from other villagers.

One day something surprising happened. “Two people from the Baptist Church came to my village and asked me to make two dozen iron crosses for their church,” Ballipati Barburao told Final Frontiers Foundation.

They also gave him some Christian tracts about the greatness of Jesus Christ and asked him to read the material and pass it out to his family and neighbors.

When Ballipati read the tract, he was confused. “I went to the Baptist Church to give the iron designs and I asked the pastor to explain about Jesus,” he recounts.

As the two men talked further the pastor explained the gospel to him. Suddenly he understood the true meaning of the crosses he fashioned in the fire. The Holy Spirit convicted Ballipati of his sins and his need for repentance. Then God planted a seed of believing faith in his heart.

“I was absolutely impressed by the preaching and then I confessed my sins and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior,” he says.

The Holy Spirit filled him with a boldness to witness. “From that moment I became a preacher,” Ballipati says, but it was not without a cost.

» Read more about Ballipati’s challenges and how he was delivered through them.

» For a story with a different ending, read a stirring tribute to  Pastor Han, martyred a few days ago after a many years of ministry to North Koreans (Voice of the Martyrs Korea). You may have also heard about two US missionaries just killed in Jamaica.

WORLD: The Portable Gospel and a Portable Dental Chair

Source: Missions Dilemma, April 22, 2016

One of the best known creations from the engineers at I-TEC is their portable dental chair. Through the Indigenous Dental Training (I-DENT program), chairs have been all around the world, from the mountains of Bolivia to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The I-DENT training supplies indigenous Christians with the skills and equipment needed to provide basic dental care in remote areas in the name of Jesus. And because the portable dental chair is light enough to carry as a backpack or to strap to the back of your bicycle as you ride from village to village, the gospel is reaching communities that have never before heard of Jesus Christ.

After receiving the I-DENT training, eight Bolivian men and women are now able to care for their community. Because they have four portable dental chairs, they can travel deep into the mountains and share the gospel through meeting the dental needs of people who have never heard the word “dentist” and have never heard the gospel. It is truly a life-changing ministry.

» Learn more. See another Missions Dilemma article, Why Medical Missions?

BOOK: Help Your Missionaries Thrive

Help your Missionaries Thrive2

Source: GMI Books

Help Your Missionaries Thrive: Leadership Practices that Make a Difference, by Ken Harder and Carla Foote (GMI Books, 2016). 96 pages.

Here’s a book for mission agency leaders, though others might be interested as well. Help Your Missionaries Thrive: Leadership Practices that Make a Difference, by Dr. Ken Harder and Carla Foote, shows leaders how they can improve retention and engagement of field workers by focusing on a handful of simple but powerful leadership practices. The resource tackles challenges such as trust, feedback, listening, decision making, dealing with a crisis, life stages, and more.

This book is based on research conducted by GMI and Best Christian Workplaces, which surveyed 1,771 North American, cross-cultural field workers from seven agencies. It reveals top concerns field workers have about their agencies in the areas of personnel practices, worker involvement in decision making, and servant leadership at all levels. I found it engaging, enlightening, and practical.

» Learn more or purchase from the publisher for US$9.99 (ebook) or US$14.99 (paperback). A Kindle edition is also available on Amazon. See also a GMI infographic about helping missionaries thrive which reflects some of this research.

» Readers might also be interested in watching Knowing Who to Send: Predicting Missionary Fruitfulness and Failure, a recent webinar for church leaders from Sixteen:Fifteen.

ARTICLE: The Role of Persecution in Movements

Source: The Long View

“Recently, in South Asia, I was interviewing leaders of a major movement. One of the questions I asked was: over your years of ministry, what habits, disciplines, or mindsets have helped you to endure in ministry and eventually become fruitful? The question was being translated and was eventually shortened to, ‘over the years, what has helped you grow in ministry?’ (which is similar but not quite the same thing and led to some interesting answers). One of the leaders, without pausing a second, answered: ‘Persecution.’ ”

» Read about six effects of persecution and four ways we can respond. See also other articles and resources from Justin Long.