ISRAEL: Messianic Jews and Arab Christians Gather amid Violence

Source: ASSIST News Service, July 10, 2014

“Dancing together with Arabs? Laughing together with them? These are the people I hated my whole life,” says Chava, a Messianic Jewish girl who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Israel.

According to Israel Today, Chava was part of a three-day gathering where she met with an estimated 1,000 Messianic Jewish and Arab Christian youth and young adults in Haifa.

At a time when murderous kidnappings, violent riots and a developing war in Gaza are bringing racial tensions to boiling point, these young Messianic Jews and Arab Christians arrived at the conference still reeling with all the raw emotions of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

For Chava, who grew up in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish ghetto, it was the first time to be in such close quarters with Arabs.

“I used to walk with my family to the Wailing Wall and pray that bad things would happen to the Arabs,” she recalled.

“We have this view that Arabs are bad people. But when I saw them praying to God, and heard them worshipping in Hebrew and then in Arabic, God touched my heart. These are the lost brothers and sisters I have been looking for all my life,” she said.

“As I washed the feet of my Arab sister, I was able to ask forgiveness for the way my family, and my people, look at them (Arabs),” Chava said.

“To hear her say that she forgives me and loves me was so healing. It was the love from Yeshua, nothing else. I never had an Arab friend.”

» Full story with picture. See also the original report from Israel Today.

» Readers might be interested in Mosul Exodus: Three Faith Groups, One Story (Institute on War and Peace Reporting).

IRAQ: New Prayer Movement among Kurdish Christians

Source: Christian Broadcasting Network, via OM Newsbytes, July-August 2014

The Kurds, who have one of the longest cultural histories in the Middle East, are [today divided among] Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Kurdish culture has remained unique from other cultures around it. In fact, tens of thousands of Kurds today identify as Christians, although thousands have been fleeing their homeland recently in the wake of militant Islamic attacks. As a result of the attacks more than 500,000 refugees have flooded into the Kurdish part of Iraq.

But God is at work in the situation. Fabian Grech, a leader within with the Mesopotamia House of Prayer in Erbil said, “In the last couple of weeks, there’s been a rise of prayer meetings all over the city. People are opening their homes for prayer and praying with their neighbors. The local churches have been opening their buildings for prayer in the morning. It wasn’t like that before. So we are seeking God’s face for our country. The prayers are filled with faith and passion—big prayers.”

» Read full story. See also the original report from CBN.

PAKISTAN: Proclaiming a Message of Hope

Source: Christian Aid Mission, July 10, 2014

Despite relentless persecution against Christians, a ministry in Pakistan is seeking to strategically bring the good news of salvation [through Bible distribution] to some of the most hostile sections of the country this summer.

The project was launched in mid-May with just 285 Bibles at the ministry’s disposal. The ministry director said his group is taking a bold step of faith and trusting God to provide all of the 2,000 Bibles they are planning to make available to their Muslim neighbors near a Taliban-controlled area by August 31.

“It is one of the difficult areas to evangelize,” the ministry leader explained in a report to Christian Aid Mission. “We praise God that in spite of all the hazards caused by heat and hatred, there are those who are seeking for the written Word of God.”

Since it is illegal to evangelize in Pakistan, Bibles cannot be given out for free. They can, however, be offered for sale at a low cost. The ministry pays $5 per Bible and sells them for $2.

Wherever the ministry’s gospel workers go, they find men and women whose hearts are eager to read the Word of God for themselves.

During its inaugural year in 1991, the ministry set a goal to sell and distribute 1,000 Bibles to Muslims. That goal was reached in the first month! By the end of the year, 4,000 Bibles had been sold.

» Read full story.

21 Easy Ways to Introduce Your Friends to the Nations (and Five Ways to Ensure They Stay Away)


girl with globe

By Shane Bennett

We all feel it, don’t we? You experience something beautiful, cool, or amazing, and you’ve just got to share it with someone. Maybe it’s a book, place, thought, or discovery. Whatever, you want those closest to you to know! You want your friends and family to share the joy and wonder you feel.

When the “cool thing” is God’s love for the nations, particularly his concern for people currently without access to the good news, your concern is not just that they share the wonder, but that they join in to solve the problem.

So “practical mobilization” really just means “come share this passion and lean your shoulder into this work with me.” In June we looked at 75 Ways to Put Your Money to Missional Use. Our second installment in the summer list series consists of simple, cheap, and effective ways to bring your friends into your obsession.

21 Easy Ways to Introduce Your Friends to the Nations

  1. Buy them a book. Ridiculously old fashioned? You bet. But also still effective. I am who I am today in part due to In The Gap: What It Means to Be A World Christian, by David Bryant. If you have a book club (and can forgo Amish romantic fiction for a month), suggest a volume that will introduce club members to a part of the world they might not otherwise discover.
  2. Do your friends lean more toward film than print? Why not make an armchair journey to Africa or Asia?
  3. Express your need for their help in hosting a class or event. Nothing invites someone in like the words, “You have a skill I lack. Can you help me with this?”
  4. Take them on an entry-level mission trip. Visit and serve an unreached people group in your city or nearby. Aim for at least half a day, but not more than two days.
  5. Invite them to join a short-term prayer group, e.g., 15 minutes before church for four weeks. Even lower commitment: Ask your small group if you can lead a global prayer once a month.
  6. Make your next small group meeting a potluck, and encourage participants to bring something from a different part of the world. Crack open your copy of Operation World and pray for the nations represented by the food.
  7. Take your friend out for Indian food. Or Ethiopian. Nervousness about the unfamiliar will keep many people from enjoying these fascinating cuisines and the complex and beautiful cultures behind them. Your experience and encouragement might open new doors.
  8. Take them along to a visiting foreign lecturer at your university. Or leave the car in the garage and watch a TED talk by a brilliant innovator from another culture. This one might be an interesting start.
  9. Ask them to get on the mailing list of an expat worker or foreign minister you respect. This one would be a good start.
  10. Invite them to contribute to work focused on an unreached people. Jesus was right about the proximity of our hearts to our treasure.
  11. Invite them to attend one night of a Perspectives, Pathways, or Kairos course. Try to be sure the speaker is one who will make them want to take the whole course!
  12. Introduce them to music meant to mobilize, like that of Perry Lahaie.
  13. Go meet international students together. Find where they hang out and go meet some. It that’s too open-ended, go with the goal of learning a little Arabic or another language of your choice. Few native speakers will shoo away someone trying to pick up their language.
  14. Invite your friends to participate in a nearby university’s friendship family program, providing a family connection for an international student.
  15. Host a sharp, young, cross-cultural worker at your house to share with your friends about her work. Bill it as (and make sure it remains) a non-fundraising event.
  16. Take a friend with you to volunteer at a local refugee assistance program.
  17. Visit a mosque, temple, or gurdwara together. (This isn’t cheating on Jesus!)
  18. Take the kids or your church group on a cultural scavenger hunt – maybe in your closest Chinatown.
  19. Don’t be annoying about it, but talk about how Jesus connected with people beyond the main flow of his culture, often times the very ones the religious people wanted to avoid!
  20. If you’re in ministry, invite your friend to pray for and support you.
  21. Ask your friend questions so you can find common ground, hear their passions, and listen to their concerns. This may happen best over coffee (or tea) and time.

Bonus: Five Ways to Ensure They Stay Away

Want your friends to stay away from your missions stuff? These habits should do the trick handily:

  1. Constantly bash your home culture for not caring, not being as good/pure/cool as the foreign culture you’re invested in.
  2. Constantly bash your church (directing particularly nasty invective at your pastor) for not caring about the “real heart of God.”
  3. Act as if God only loves people who aren’t like them. Or maybe just likes them better.
  4. Trumpet your cross-cultural accomplishments, while only slightly masking your disdain for “local” missions.
  5. Don’t care for your friends. Care only for the cause.

» Are you doing any of the things on this list? The first list, I mean! Let us know, and tell us what you’d add.

ShaneAbout Shane Bennett

Shane has been loving Muslims and connecting people who love Jesus with Muslims for more than 20 years. He speaks like he writes – in a practical, humorous, and easy-to-relate-to way – about God’s passion to bring all peoples into his kingdom. Contact Shane to speak to your people.

Missions Catalyst News Briefs

cropped-Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_large.pngIn This Issue: News from the nations: Armenia, Pakistan, and China

  1. MIDDLE EAST: “Islamic State” Rises

  2. ARMENIA: First Bible College
  3. PAKISTAN: Passing Out Literature on Independence Day
  4. GEORGIA: Despite Threats, Many Accept Gospel
  5. CHINA: Persecution – Again!

For additional news, see our Twitter feed.


With the US Independence Day holiday just around the corner and yet more media reports of “nation rising against nation,” nationalism is on my mind. Last week our home group read in Samuel 1 about Israel wanting their own king. It struck me that for these tribes called by God to be a light to the world, this was the birth of nationalism. And God was against it!

Does nationalism interfere with witness? Maybe. What about transnationalism? How is it different than globalization? And how does it affect the witness of the Church? My friend Justin Long is once again thinking about the same things. Read his thoughts on the complexities of nationalism and the Kingdom.

This week’s stories include nations like the world’s first “Christian nation,” Armenia, which define themselves by an ideology, as well as nations with deep divisions and people without a nation.

What does God think of nation building? How can it be leveraged for the Kingdom? Glad you asked. We’re in the season of Ramadan, a time that rallies Muslims transnationally and a great time for us to pray. Read Ramadan’s Effects on Openness (St. Francis Magazine). This article summarizes field observations about the spiritual dynamics surrounding the Ramadan fast, with numerous suggestions for more effectively reaching Muslims with the gospel.

And visuals are great for prayer. Check out Ramadan in Pictures (Al Jazeera).

Finally, what is prayer without a promise? See Psalm 2:10-12.

Pat Noble

MIDDLE EAST: “Islamic State” Rises

Source: Worthy News, June 30, 2014

On the first day of Ramadan, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant declared a new Islamic Caliphate in the areas it now occupies, and has renamed itself as simply “Islamic State,” as it ushers in a new era of international jihad. The “Islamic State” has called on al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadist groups operating in the region to immediately pledge their allegiance.

The Caliphate would be established in all areas the “Islamic State” controls in Iraq and Syria. It announced that its leader, [who calls himself] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, would be the caliph or head of state. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was released in 2009 from a US detention center in Iraq. The US has a $10 million bounty on his head.

“The time has come for the Ummah [nation] of Mohammed (peace be upon him) to wake up from its sleep, remove the garments of dishonor, and shake off the dust of humiliation and disgrace,” Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in an audio release.

» Read complete article.

» See also What Is a Caliphate? (Huffington Post) and 20 facts about what’s happening in Iraq (INContext). If you have time, watch or listen to a talk from Arif Jamal, author of Call for Transnational Jihad (Hudson Institute).

ARMENIA: First Bible College

Source: Assemblies of God AG News, June 18, 2014

A trip to Armenia, led by [Assemblies of God] General Superintendent George O. Wood and Global University President Gary Seevers, has resulted in the Armenia Bible College, a School of Global University, being created, with classes beginning in September. The college will be the only Bible college in Armenia.

Dr. Wood spoke at an invitation-only meeting of approximately 2,000 Pentecostal leaders and believers in Yerevan. These groups have requested the assistance of Global University to launch Armenia Bible College and train missionaries. They desired to increase their effectiveness as “a lighthouse for Christ in a sea of Islam.”

» Read complete article.

PAKISTAN: Passing Out Literature on Independence Day

Source: OM News, June 20, 2014

Pakistan’s Independence Day, March 23, [was] a great opportunity for the teams of OM Pakistan to share the good news using literature.

In the south, the team ordered 2,500 pamphlets they intended to distribute in a particular city. They asked the youth of a local church to help and gave leaflets out throughout city.

One man they met said, “This is amazing! I was thinking, nobody seems to know about Pakistan Day here, but you are sharing God’s love to awaken the nation through this literature. I appreciate your loyalty to the motherland. May God bless Pakistan!”

The team in the north also distributed 2,000 leaflets in six cities. The leaflet talked about the issues Pakistan struggles with and the need to pray for the country and play a personal role in its restoration. It emphasized that, although now Pakistanis live in a free country, there is a lack of awareness of the freedom that Yasu Al-Masih (Jesus) offers from the powers of darkness, sin, and death.

» Read complete article. Please also read about and pray for many Pakistanis who have been displaced by violence: Unbelievably, There Are Now Refugees Fleeing to Afghanistan (Time), In A Remote Corner Of Pakistan, A Mass Exodus (NPR), Afghanistan Becomes Unlikely Safe Haven for Pakistani Refugees (IRIN), and Ethnic Cleansing Goes Unpunished in the Land of the Pure (Inter Press Service).

» Readers might also be encouraged by another recent story from OM. Speaking to the Arli Heart is about the impact of scripture distribution on Roma people in Serbia, and it led us to an interesting article by Philip Jenkins, The Church of the Roma, in his series Notes from the Global Church (Christian Century).

GEORGIA: Despite Threats, Many Accept Gospel

Source: IMB Commission Stories, June 13, 2014

More than 1,000 Georgians indicated a desire to follow Christ [at an evangelistic festival] – a reaction that sparked a fire of enthusiasm in local churches.

It was a flame that burned on the heels of intense opposition.

In the weeks leading up to the festival, the Orthodox Church became very vocal in its opposition to the evangelical celebration. “George Green,” who serves with his wife, Lily, and their children in Georgia, said priests threatened congregants with excommunication from the church if they or any family member attended, a punishment tantamount to eternal damnation.

They also warned that any show of support would negate their national identity and they would “not be Georgian” anymore, Lily said.

Just days before the festival, arsonists destroyed the sports center reserved for the event, forcing the organizers to scramble for another location. Many parks and venues refused to host them, but a local church offered its parking lot as a solution.

Although the lot was only large enough for 2,000 people, about 5,300 gathered each night in a standing-room-only crowd, leaning from windows of neighboring buildings and sitting on the walls of the property.

The Festival of Hope pulled together 150 evangelical churches and trained them to share the gospel and lead people to Christ. This has sparked a fire in Georgian believers.

» Read complete article.

CHINA: Persecution – Again!

Source: OMF International Global Chinese Ministries, July-August, 2014

Over the last two decades the church in China has experienced a gradual lessening of persecution and some stability in their freedom to worship and evangelize, with some exceptions.

However, events that became headline international news in April and May show that the situation for Christians – even those meeting under the supposedly safe auspices of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council – is still precarious. Large-scale persecution in China can still be unleashed without warning, with no rule of law to protect the believers.

The government has recently made it clear that it is happy to stress a return to traditional Chinese values based on Confucianism and Buddhism. Western culture and universal human rights are negated and, by implication, so is Protestant Christianity, which is wrongly stigmatized as Western, or even American. Thankfully, there are many in the Party who see Christians as a positive force in society who should be mobilized to help address the many challenges China faces. However, growing nationalism can be mobilized to create prejudice against Christians. At this point it is not clear which of these two conflicting currents will ultimately win out.

» Read full story.

» Another story about struggles over national identity and religion: Hindus Pressure Police to Arrest 40 Christians in Nepal (Barnabas Aid).