BOOK: What Global Expressions of Faith Can Teach Us about Following Jesus

BoundlessSource: Baker Books

Boundless: What Global Expressions of Faith Can Teach Us about Following Jesus, by Bryan Bishop. Baker Books, 2015. 240 pages.

This gracefully written book takes us along on the author’s journey through the world of contextualized religion to discover what might help post-Christian westerners who hunger for a faith more relevant and vibrant than what they have inherited in traditional Christianity.

Bishop, a long-time researcher and writer with Youth with a Mission, visits groups who learn from and worship Jesus using forms inspired by Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and native American cultures (and generally found in those religious settings). He sees his own faith grow and shares his questions and what he learns along the way from groups of believers who honor the centrality of the Bible, focus on Jesus, adopt local practices, and seek truth where they can find it.

Bishop’s honest and engaging travelogue through a landscape often marked with controversy nicely blends scholarship, journalism, and personal reflection. I would recommend this book to any who seek to understand contextualization and its faces, problems, and benefits, and I believe it would hold the interest of those new to these issues as well as those who have long considered them.

» Learn more or purchase the book from Amazon (or elsewhere).

ARTICLES: Lausanne Global Analysis

Source: Lausanne Movement, January 2016

The January issue of Lausanne’s Global Analysis focuses on the witness of the churches in war-torn Syria and how we can support and learn from them; the questions raised by the Chinese government cracking down on registered churches while at the same time initiating dialogue with house church leaders; the trend among some Christians towards turning Jerusalem into a Christian Mecca and how we should respond; and on how developing young leaders with disabilities strengthens the body of Christ.

» Learn more and download the full issue or the executive summary.

» Some might also be interested in a special edition of the Evangelical Missiological Society’s Occasional Bulletin in which various writers weigh in on the missiological implications of the much debated and problematic question, do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? (See also a summary from Christianity Today, which includes links to other articles).

BOOK: A Better Path to Global Engagement (for American Churches)

Walk this waySource: 181 Publishing

Walk This Way: A Better Path to Global Engagement, by Paul McGuiness. 181 Publishing, 2015. 148 pages.

This book is written to an American audience and from the point of view of a church leader. The “better path” it proposes is for American churches that want to engage effectively with global ministry partners, especially where the church already exists (e.g., places like Haiti and Kenya where the author’s church has been working).

I appreciate McGuiness’ winsome, positive approach to this topic and his use of personal examples, analogies, and scripture to support his points. He builds on and directs the reader toward a variety of resources, ministries, and subject-area experts. These are well chosen. The result is a readable, balanced, and practical introduction to global partnership. It would be a good book for church mission teams to read and discuss together.

» Learn more or purchase the book from Amazon (or elsewhere) or see also the book’s website.

» Two other new books to check out for yourself: Paul Borthwick’s Great Commission, Great Compassion: Following Jesus and Loving the World and Steve Addison’s Pioneering Movements: Leadership that Multiplies Disciples and Churches. Both are from InterVarsity Press and look worth reading.

EVENTS: Upcoming Conferences, Training, and More

Source: Missions Catalyst Calendar

February 2, Disciple Making Movements Training (online). Start of a seven-week class provided by Act Beyond.

February 3-6, International Conference on Computing and Mission (Mosbach, Germany). An annual event.

February 5-7, Missionfest Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

February 8, Chinese Lunar New Year (global). Here’s all you need to know to reach out to Chinese neighbors, via the International Mission Board.

February 9 to March 1, Mobile Ministry Course (online). Provided by the Mobile Ministry Forum several times a year.

February 10 to March 20, Seek God for the City (global). Annual 40-day prayer campaign. Materials available from WayMakers.

February 11 to April 8, Mobilizer Equipping School (Chiang Mai, Thailand). Provided by Student Volunteer Movement 2.

February 14-19, ABIDE (Joplin, MO, USA). Re-entry and debriefing for singles, couples, and families provided by TRAIN International.

February 19-20, Short-term Mission ConneXion (Portland, OR, USA). Training event provided by Mission ConneXion.

February 19-21, Missions Fest Alberta (Edmonton, AB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

February 22-25, Thrive Retreat (Dubai, UAE). For North American women serving cross-culturally.

February 25-26, Support Raising Bootcamp (Dallas, TX, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

February 26-27, Midwest Conference on Missionary Care (Bloomington, MN, USA).

February 27, Bridges Seminar (Greenbelt, MD, USA). Building bridges to reach Muslims. Provided by Crescent Project.

March 3-5, Mind the Gaps Conference (Redlands, CA, USA). Engaging churches in missionary care.

March 4-8, TENTmaking Course (Bergen, Norway). Provided by Global Opportunities.

March 5, Sending New Missionaries (Johnson City, TN, USA). One-day workshop provided by Catalyst Services.

March 11-12, Muslim ConneXion (Portland, OR, USA). Training event provided by Mission ConneXion.

March 11-12, People Raising Conference (Oak Brook, IL, USA). Be equipped for raising personal support.

March 13-19, Recalibrate! (Aurora, IN, USA). Five days of group and personal missionary debriefing.

March 14-15, Support Raising Bootcamp (Rogers, AR, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

March 18-19, Kingdom Business Conference (Charleston, SC, USA). Provided by Charleston Southern University.

March 18-20, Jesus to the Nations (Halifax, NS, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

March 21-24, Engaging Islam (Hong Kong). Evangelism training course provided by Horizons International.

» View the calendar or submit an addition or correction.

World News Briefs

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In This Issue:

  1. BURKINA FASO: Seven Servants Go Home
  2. IRAN: Prostitute Hired to Hear the Gospel
  3. NEAR EAST: 2015, the Year of Displacement
  4. WORLD: World Watch List 2016
  5. CENTRAL ASIA: Doing Business, Expanding the Kingdom

Greetings,

By now you have probably heard that Saeed Abedini has been freed. After more than three years in Iran he will soon be home with his wife and children.

You may know that another Christian brother, Michael Riddering, has “gone home” this week as well, but his wife is mourning. Will you rejoice with me that the Ridderings gave up leasing yachts in South Florida to serve the poor and sick in West Africa? I have a new hero in Mike. His story is not likely to inspire more workers in hard places, but it inspires me to live more purposefully and trust God to lead me, anywhere. Read on.

Rejoice in the Lord… always!

Pat

mike_riddering

Mike Riddering, 45, from Florida had been working as a missionary in Burkina Faso since 2011. (Mike Riddering/Facebook, via World Watch Monitor)

BURKINA FASO: Seven Servants Go Home

Source: Mission Network News, January 20, 2016

Burkina Faso ends three days of national mourning today.

The president said security would be stepped up in the capital and the country’s borders after Islamic militants killed at least 28 people last week.

Six of those who died were from Canada, on a mission trip, while a seventh was a U.S. missionary. According to Brietbart and World Watch Monitor, the seventh victim was 45-year-old Michael Riddering, a native of Florida. He was in Ouagadougou with Pastor Valentin, his Burkinabe associate, to pick up a team of missionaries visiting from a church in Florida. They were early, so they stopped by the Cappuccino Cafe to wait.

Not long after they arrived, [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] launched the attack, beginning with the café. Valentin called [Riddering’s wife] Amy to ask her to pray urgently, but the line went dead before he finished what he was saying. Valentin was eventually found and rescued by security forces. Mike was found in a morgue 24 hours later.

In the days following her husband’s death, the community the Ridderings served has come around Amy and are mourning with her. She posted on her Facebook page her struggle to come to grips with what happened, her love for Mike, and her hope in Christ. That came through yesterday, when amid her grief she posted this: “One of our ladies as the Women’s Center gave birth two days ago. She wanted me to name her child. Her name is Chantal Relwende. ‘Relwende’ … means ‘Lean on God.’”

» Read full story and see also Burkina Faso Dead Include Seven Mission Workers (World Watch Monitor) and note that on the same day as this attack, an Australian doctor and his wife were kidnapped in Ouagadougou. Please keep Ken and Jocelyn Elliot in your prayers.

» Readers might also be interested in an article from Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper honoring Michael Riddering and learning about the ministry with which he served, Sheltering Wings.

IRAN: Prostitute Hired to Hear the Gospel

Source: Iran Alive Ministries, January 1, 2016

Farhad, a volunteer evangelist for Iran Alive’s online ministry, did not know at first what to think when he sensed the Holy Spirit guiding him to pick up a prostitute. All he knew is that he needed to obey and that he had help waiting at home.

“I picked up one of the prostitutes waiting for clients and took her to my home. When we got there, she prepared to take off her clothes. I quickly stopped her and explained I wanted nothing to do with her physically. I said, “Please sit here behind the computer with me and listen to what they say in this chat room.”

“She became very upset and thought I would not pay her. I told her not to worry, and that I would pay her what I had promised. She agreed and sat down.

“The chat room was Iran Alive’s Church7 online service conducted every Friday night. As we were listening, the pastor said, ‘The Lord is saying that those of you who think there is no hope left, you who think addiction is the answer to your pain, you who think being a prostitute is the only way to make money, there is hope for you.’ This caught the woman’s attention. Then the pastor said, ‘God is able to open new doors in your life. God is waiting for you.’”

» Read what happened next.

NEAR EAST: 2015, The Year of Displacement

Source: Cry Out Now, January 2016

2015 could rightly be described as the “year of displacement.”

  • At least 40% of Syria’s population, or 7.6 million people, have been internally displaced, the highest number in the world… 4.4 million registered Syrian refugees have been externally displaced as [of] December 10, 2015.
  • 13.5 million Syrians will be displaced in 2016 according to the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan, of whom 6 million are children.
  • 807,000 Syrian asylum applications were received in Europe between April 2011 and November 2015 compared to 137,947 during 2014.
  • Less than 20% of Syrian refugees seek safety in Europe.
  • 3.6 million Syrians registered by UNHCR are in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.
  • Germany has officially seen one million people (from all nations) arrive in the country as asylum seekers in the course of 2015.
  • In November alone, more than 200,000 people were added to the list, smashing all forecasts.
  • 218,394 were registered in Greece by October 2015 with an average of 6,604 refugees arriving each day in Macedonia.
  • 3,485 refugees have drowned or have gone missing the past year.
  • The oldest refugee passing through Macedonia has been a 105-year-old woman from Afghanistan. The youngest refugee passing through Macedonia has been a 20-day-old infant. 51.2% of all refugees are children younger than 18 years of age.

“Lord, would you use the terrible situations refugees are facing all across the region and into Europe to bring many thousands to yourself, and would you revive the church through your work among them? Lord, we pray in 2016 for peace and a beginning of a return back for many.”

» Read full story and see the UN data source.

WORLD: World Watch List 2016

Source: Open Doors, January 2016

The Open Doors World Watch List highlights the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. These are the places where followers of Christ must keep their beliefs hidden and where living the gospel means facing beatings, imprisonment, discrimination, and abuse.

The list reports that persecution became more intense in more parts of the world in 2015. While North Korea remains the most difficult place in the world to be a Christian, persecution is growing most rapidly in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa. In the Middle East, Islamic State violence in Iraq and Syria has increased the pace of the exodus of the Christian population from the region and is also having a global impact.

Christians living in these countries need the support of their family, the body of Christ, to help them stand firm in their faith.

» View map, facts, faces, country profiles, and more and see the Open Doors January 13 press release.

CENTRAL ASIA: Doing Business, Expanding the Kingdom

Source: Frontiers UK, January 8, 2016

Matt leads a team and has an animal feed business in Central Asia. Through this business, local families are trained in how to set up and operate their own small-scale farms. The business helps them get started by providing them with a small investment of livestock and feed.

Matt hired Adem, who had recently become a believer, as the company’s first national employee. Later he became the company’s first distributor. “It’s easier to talk about Jesus now that I am a businessman,” Adem says. “It has opened many doors for me because people respect me. They trust me. I find it is easy to start talking about spiritual things with people because I am already involved in their lives.”

Adem has several new believers he is discipling, teaching, and equipping to obey Jesus’ commands. Through Matt’s mentoring and encouragement, Adem has grown into a spiritually sensitive entrepreneur, constantly looking for new opportunities to grow the business and expand the kingdom.

» Read full story.