CENTRAL ASIA: Thirsty for God’s Word

Source: IMB Connecting, July 2015

One airplane ride, a two-and-a-half-day bus ride, and a seven-hour camel ride away from the StoryTogether [gospel storytelling] workshop location, Central Asian believers regularly gather for prayer, praise, and teaching in a dry mountainous region among some of the world’s fiercest Muslim extremists.

For 15 years since the gospel first penetrated “behind the mountains that are behind the mountains,” as one workshop attendee describes his home, many of the 20 people groups within the church network have persevered in following Jesus with no Scripture to guide them.

[Several missionaries in another area] worked with their national partner to bring church leaders from two languages groups to their hub city for the first of four StoryTogether workshops. The workshop goals are to produce “story crafters” who will learn to tell biblically accurate stories about God and the church in their culture’s style, and begin building a canon of stories the story crafters will then teach to others.

The men, thirsty for God’s Word, were eager students as they learned the first story—Jesus’ parable of the sower and the four soils. Tasked to go out into the community and retell the story, one group found camel herders who spoke their language. The other language group visited a labor camp filled with thousands of Central Asian men, some of whom spoke their language.

One hundred laborers—sleeping 5 to 10 men in a space the size of a dorm room and working six to seven days a week in extreme conditions—listened carefully as the visitors recounted the parable of the soils. The next day, the StoryTogether students returned, prepared to tell a second story.

“When they got there, they found the 100 men that had heard the first story waiting eagerly for the StoryTogether team. The laborers told the StoryTogether participants that they could not sleep and they could not stop thinking and talking about what they had heard the night before.” After discussing the stories until late in the night, 20 laborers stood up and said they wanted to follow Jesus.

» Full story with photos and prayer points.

» Other stories from Central Asia: Seeking Work but Finding Faith and Reading with Bibi (both from Operation Mobilization). Readers might also be interested in reports of broadcast ministries reaching Albanian Muslims in the Balkans (Godreports).

ALGERIA: “No Competition” between Churches

Source: United Bible Societies, July 27, 2015

What I enjoy most about my visits to Algeria are the Christians from all walks of life who I get to meet, and their love for the Bible. Earlier this year I met a Catholic priest who is a frequent visitor to the Bible Society. He told me how he provides New Testaments or Bibles to people who come to his church to request Scriptures.

“Father B” isn’t a typical priest here, where the Catholic Church is very wary of being accused of proselytism. He explains that when he first arrived in Algeria, he asked his bishop for Bibles for those who requested one. He was told: “Let’s wait a little…” Then the people who had requested a Bible looked everywhere for one on the Internet, and some ended up receiving one from a cult abroad.

“Since then, it is agreed that I can give a New Testament or even a Bible to whoever requests one,” explains Father B. “The Bible Society is the only place in Algeria where we can buy Scriptures and, despite the long drive, I regularly go to Algiers to bring some back.”

Ali Khidri, General Secretary of the Bible Society in Algeria, nods with a big smile: Father B is a regular customer at the Bible Society and they get on well. It is so good to see a Catholic priest and a Protestant pastor collaborate with such enthusiasm. It is true that the first Protestant “house church” is many miles away from Father B’s parish—but, really, the concept of competition is the last thing on his mind.

“A young man who became a Christian several months ago and who is doing Bible studies with me was baptized last week by a Protestant pastor he also talks with from time to time,” he says. “I was delighted! There is no competition between us.”

» Read full story.

» We’ve run out of space in this edition! If you’ve got time, though, check out Amazing Peace in a Region of Iraq (World Evangelical Alliance) and Fighting for the Forgotten Pygmies (Mission Network News).

Practical Mobilization

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn this Issue: Setting a course for global engagement

3268697347_e58bdc1b10_zSailboat image: Easysailing, Flikr/Creative Commons

What’s Your Status, Gladys? Setting a Course for Global Engagement

By Shane Bennett

My wife and I have a text message shorthand question to ask how things are going when we’re apart: “What’s your status, Gladys?” Neither of us is named Gladys. I just like the rhyme. And I’m hoping it will stick in your mind as I ask you what your status is relative to God’s work throughout the world. You know: missions, the Great Commission, call it what you like.

What’s your status, Gladys?

What is your part and how well are you playing it?

If you’re the epicenter of your church’s cross-cultural efforts, if you’re confident and comfortable in the role God has you playing right now, or if you’re up to your ears with an unengaged people group, this article isn’t so much for you. It is, however, for people in your sphere of influence, so please consider passing it along.

If, on the other hand, you sense God asking you to engage in a more significant way, if there’s a niggling somewhere in your heart or mind, and you’re not sure what to do or how to get going, read on. This is going to help.

The process is simple:

A. Set a course.
B. Determine the very next step.
C. Kick down the obstacles.

Let’s take a closer look.

A: Set a course.

Maybe you’re thinking about the world for the first time. That God might be asking someone like you to join someone like him in amazing global work is a new concept. You’ve got to figure out how to get going.

Or maybe you’ve been following Jesus for a while and always thought missions was a cool idea, but never actually took the leap. Now God’s saying, “The water’s great. Get in here!”

Perhaps you’ve been logging hours for the world but have this crazy hunch that God wants to strap some rockets to your efforts and light the fuse!

The first thing to remember is that you can’t do everything. If you try, you’ll be lousy at the whole list. Paul was right about that body of Christ thing: God is smart enough to equip each of us so that together we can accomplish what he has in mind. The trick, of course, is determining if you’re a hand or a heart, an elbow or an epiglottis. (Is anyone that part of the body?)

You didn’t ask for advice, but here it is: Don’t let this decision paralyze you. Trust in the equipping (and when you goof, the redeeming) power of God and get moving.

Some people shake out the basic modes of involvement in missions into praying, sending, going, welcoming, and mobilizing. Consider simply picking from the list and moving in that general direction. Definitely seek God at this point (and every other). You’d also be wise to seek the input of people who are wiser or more experienced than you are.

Keep in mind: These categories can overlap. Choosing one as a focus doesn’t lock you in forever.

If you can honestly say “I feel that God wants me to play a bigger part in his globally expanding kingdom, but I don’t know what part,” let me offer you two options to consider:

1. The unengaged

Focus your copious skills and energy on an unengaged Muslim people group. Read this Practical Mobilization column from a couple of months ago. Check out this list from the International Mission Board. Then talk to someone like the kindly mavericks at Frontiers about how quickly you can dive into the deep end!

2. The overlooked

Let me invite you, as personally as I can in an article like this, to join me in a growing effort to respond to the heart-wrenching humanitarian crisis and amazing gospel opportunity unfolding in Sicily right now. I think there’s a place for you in what God is launching, and I’d love to explore that with you. Let’s do something epic together.

B: Determine the very next step.

Regardless of the general direction you choose, education might be your next step. Perspectives classes, which may be the best introduction to God’s global purposes, are starting up right now all across the U.S. and beyond. There are other classes and curricula that cover similar ground which may be in the works in your church or town. Ask around!

Signed up for Perspectives, now what? Generally, look to see what your tribe is doing. How does the direction you want to head in work at your church? How could you contribute there? Is God unfolding something cool at your church that he has in mind for you to contribute to? Moving forward with your tribe can be very powerful.

For specifics, this site has some great ideas for each main role. Also consider these:


Set an alarm on your phone for 10.02am and simply pray as Jesus said to in Luke 10.2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”


Tell a fund-raising friend that you’re trying to learn to send, so you’ll support her $20 (or $200) a month for six months and then re-evaluate. Ask to get on her email newsletter list.


Get a passport! You may not be able to go anywhere cool without one.


Call the closest university and ask if any international students have signed up to be paired with local friends. Agree to be one of those local friends.


Forward this email to three friends who might walk with you as you move toward the world and God’s work in it.

C: Kick down the obstacles

It would be so cool if knowing your general direction and clearly understanding the very next step led seamlessly to action. Sadly, in the real world, things like fear, apathy, and busy-ness conspire to keep us where we are. Might as well be honest about it. What is most likely to keep you from taking your next step?

Thinking your friends will think you’ve lost it?

Wondering where the money will come from?

Mired in uncertainty?

Do this with me: Name it and un-claim it! Seek God’s power and a friend’s, pastor’s, or mom’s support—whatever is required. Take that very next step.

One caveat: If it’s all you can do right now to breathe and your next step is pretty much just trying to stay alive, please don’t let these words further burden you. My prayer for you is that God soon brings you out of the valley into refreshing green pastures and quiet waters.


So what’s your status, Gladys? What’s the main direction, what’s the very next step, and what do you need to kill to take it? God’s grace to you and to us! I’m hungry to see his purposes fulfilled on the earth. I want to see his blessing blossom in every family. And both the Bible and experience indicate it’s going to take a lot of us showing up with all the strength and smarts and persistence we can muster, coupled with the empowering of the Holy Spirit. We need you. Your contribution matters. If God is nudging you forward: engage!

» We welcome your comments on this article below or on our Facebook page. Please share it freely.

KOSOVA: Breakthrough during Ramadan

Stone Bridge KosovaSinan Pasha Mosque and stone bridge in Kosovo (Wikipedia / Tobias Klenze).

Source: Train International, July 2015

During the month of Ramadan, while our Muslims cousins were fasting across the globe, a great many Christian brothers and sisters were united in prayer for them. Midway through the month, God moved in a powerful way in Kosova (Kosovo), a Muslim-majority country in Eastern Europe. Powerful, and practically without precedent in the collective memory of both Kosovar nationals and international missionaries serving in the area.

The leaders and elders of a village of about 500 people, located in the patriotic heartland of the country, reached out to a group of Kosovar followers of Christ. These Muslim men had made the trip to a distant city where they knew Christians lived; there were none in their village or even their near vicinity. Their request? “Come tell us about your Jesus.”

Curious about what prompted many of the Kosovars to leave their traditions for the way of Christ, these leaders asked for a delegation of converts to visit their village, share their story of conversion, and explain the gospel and how they could get in on it if they so desired.

When the day came, nine followers of Christ made the trip and were welcomed hospitably in this village. They shared their story, shared the good news, and 27 Kosovars immediately responded, asking to follow the way of Christ. Two days later, 27 had grown to 300!

In that remote village where there had been no church, no Christians, and no missionaries, God was working to stir up hearts and draw his people back to himself. It’s not likely a coincidence that this took place during a time of intense concentration of united, worldwide prayer for the Muslim world. Let’s keep praying for breakthroughs and for the Lord to draw people to himself, responding to opportunities he brings, and celebrating his power.

» Editor’s note: Thanks to the reader who submitted and confirmed this article. No, you won’t find it on their website. Let us know if you’ve heard other reports of how our prayers were answered!

WORLD: Engineers Enlisted to Reach the World’s Unconnected

Source: Faith Comes by Hearing, May 11, 2015

Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) continues to press forward with an ambitious agenda to provide digital Bible access to the most remote and hard-to-reach regions on the planet. FCBH has awarded a contract to Integrity Applications Incorporated (IAI) to determine the best way to provide the Digital Bible to “unconnected” people in the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and China by leveraging space and telecommunications capabilities.

Founded in 1999, IAI is a veteran-owned business with over 600 employees. IAI supports multiple commercial and government customers. On average, IAI employees have over 22 years of engineering experience, hands-on experience with all critical space system components and multiple skill sets to address any space system need. IAI will leverage its expertise in communications, system engineering, and space and ground systems to analyze end-to-end architectures to provide the Digital Bible to these regions.

“[They] are the best-of-the-best in finding communication solutions for the most difficult problems,” said Troy Carl, FCBH vice president and architect of the ministry’s expanding digital outreach. “We are honored to be working with them to fulfill the task of providing access to the Bible in even the most remote locations on earth.”

» Read full press release.

LEBANON: 90 Deaf People Receive Christ

Source: Christian Aid Mission, July 16, 2015

When a Christian organization based in Lebanon began reaching out to the Deaf five years ago, it discovered what amounted to an unreached people group longing for belonging.

Introducing sign-language into the ministry’s existing outreaches to the primarily Muslim people in Lebanon has resulted in nearly 90 Deaf people putting their faith in Christ, the ministry director said. Two groups of 40 to 45 people each meet for prayer.

“We’ve been shocked by the number of people coming to Christ these days,” the director said. “We’ve been seeing miracles happening these days among the Muslim people. So many are turning to Christ.”

» Read full story, with a picture and opportunity to be involved.

SOUTH SUDAN: Pastors’ Final Hearing Set for August 5

Source: Mission Network News, July 30, 2015

The final hearing of South Sudanese pastors Yat Michael Rout and Peter Yein Reith will be on August 5. The results could lead to the death penalty.

On December 2, 2014, police in North Khartoum beat, arrested, and fined 38 Christians. They were released that night. Pastor Michael was invited to encourage the church to stand firm despite the persecution. But after giving a sermon on December 14, 2014, he was arrested and detained.

Several weeks later, Pastor Reith was arrested for submitting a letter from leaders in the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church that asked about Michael’s whereabouts.

The pastors have been charged with committing crimes with other churches, spying for outsiders, and collecting and leaking information of Sudanese national security. Two charges include the death sentence.

» Read full story, which includes a picture of the two men and links to other news sources. For several other recent stories about believers in this part of Africa, see the Open Doors Newsroom.

SAUDI ARABIA: Women Empowered by Royal Family

Source: Pray4Saudi, July 15, 2015

The sun has begun to rise upon the daughters of Saudi Arabia.

In an unprecedented political move, Saudi Arabia’s Prince al-Waleed bin Talal announced on July 1 a massive financial donation for the empowerment of women. Al-Waleed pledged US$32 billion to philanthropy, prioritizing women’s empowerment. This marks the first time in Saudi Arabia’s history that a member of the royal family will donate his entire fortune. The nephew of King Salman and grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder Ibn Saud, Bloomberg lists al-Waleed as the 20th richest person in the world.

For several years, Prince al-Waleed has been a staunch and vocal advocate of women’s rights. In April 2013, he tweeted support for women driving. His staff is made up primarily of women. Educated in the West, he comes under criticism by conservative Saudi women. They disapprove of his support of women’s rights, claiming it violates Wahhabism and traditional Arab customs.

» Read full story with prayer points.