AFGHANISTAN: Election Crisis

afghanistan-homeSource: Email from Prayercast, August 31, 2014

Currently overshadowed by other situations in the Middle East, the nation of Afghanistan faces a mounting crisis. Results from June’s election remain contested with claims of fraud on both sides. Tensions are high as this fragile nation stands on the brink of an outbreak of further violence. With over 30 years of continuous war and upheaval, Afghanistan desperately awaits true peace.

Known as the world’s most dangerous place for a child to be born, Afghanistan is a nation that has seen much suffering. The Taliban’s removal brought an increased freedom to a broken nation, but the wounds remain deep. With more than 48,000 mosques covering the countryside, 99.9% of Afghanis are Muslim. Yet God is moving mountains to draw them to himself! Twenty years ago only dozens claimed Christ; today there are believed to be several thousand.

» Pray for Afghanistan.

MIDDLE EAST: Media Fueling Terror Threats

Source: Mission Network News, August 29, 2014

More threats are coming out of radical Islam. Middle East expert with E3 Partners Tom Doyle says we need to be careful what we believe. “Lots of it is false. Lots of it is to tie up the government. Lots of it is to produce fear in the hearts of people. Look at the obsessive news coverage that we’re seeing. These guys are pretty savvy with media.”

Doyle points to the James Foley murder as an example of that. “Everything was rehearsed and scripted. To be able to be put out and tied to Guantanamo Bay, the way he was dressed and with an English-speaking Muslim. All of that is done to just show fear.”

It reminds him of the Assyrian Empire, who did the same thing. Entire villages would kill themselves knowing the Assyrians were coming.

Doyle points to another example. “This week there was an e-mail going around saying the Christians were being lined up and being beheaded. That didn’t happen. Someone put that out. We need to be careful. Christians shouldn’t live in a state of fear, but we need to be prepared.”

» Read full story.

WORLD: Bad News, Good News

Source: Erich Bridges, International Mission Board, August 26, 2014

The cascade of grim global headlines overwhelmed a friend of mine recently. He announced that he couldn’t take it anymore — at least until tomorrow.

“I don’t know why I care,” he wrote. “I don’t know why I bother. I check the news. Bad. All bad. Unless the news is horrible, it’s bad. Why care? Why bother? Why not just play ‘Angry Birds’ and pretend it doesn’t affect me? It sounds easier.”

Despite his frustration and discouragement, I know he won’t stop reading, watching, caring, and praying. He’s an intelligent and compassionate young man, for one thing. He’s concerned about world affairs. He makes a point of keeping up with what’s happening and tries to understand it.

Another young person I know returned recently from a youth mission trip to Amsterdam, the Dutch capital. She and the group arrived there the same week in July that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew. Two-thirds of the passengers were Dutch. People on the streets of Amsterdam were just beginning to experience the shock of the tragedy as the youth team walked through the city and distributed more than 6,000 copies of the Gospel of John.

Some people they encountered rejected the small gifts of truth. But many accepted it — many more than the Amsterdam-based Christian worker helping the young people expected — and they began reading it. Perhaps they were looking for something to hold onto, something to hope in.

» Read full article.

» Read also these articles about our world: World’s Top Church-Destroying Countries (Christianity Today) and a report from InContext Ministries about how the influence of various countries is viewed, positively or negatively, by the rest of the world. And see this great, concise piece from Asia Harvest, God’s Solution to Terrorism. Part one addresses the “real cause of global terrorism.” Look for part two in next month’s Asia Harvest newsletter.

LAOS: Five Christians Accused of Murder Found Not Guilty

Source: Barnabas Fund, August 21, 2014

A group of Christians in Laos who were falsely accused of murder have been found not guilty. The believers, who remain in custody, were arrested after a sick woman sought prayer at her local church, converted to Christianity, and later died. The five Christians, four of whom are church leaders, have been detained since June 24.

The accusations came after Mrs. Chan, a convert to Christianity, passed away on June 21. Mrs. Chan had been suffering from an unidentified illness for two years, and local Christians prayed for her recovery. After her health initially improved, Mrs. Chan and her eight children became Christians and began attending church. Mrs. Chan’s health then deteriorated further, and she died on the way home from hospital.

Mrs. Chan’s sons and daughters wanted a Christian burial for their mother. When the village authorities prevented this from going ahead, Mrs. Kaithong, the leader of the Saisomboon church, appealed to the district chief. The five believers were then arrested, initially over the burial dispute, and later charged with murder. Buddhist leaders stepped in and conducted Mrs. Chan’s funeral service against her family’s wishes.

» Read full story.

» Interested in East Asia? We’ve been following stories about Christianity in China. See China Plans Establishment of Christian Theology (China Daily) and Why Is China Nationalizing Christianity? (The Diplomat), as well as China Removed More than 200 Crosses (Worthy News).

YEMEN: Woman Burned to Death for Her Faith

Source: Morning Star News, August 29, 2014

On the morning of June 9 in southern Yemen, Saeed woke to the sound of screaming. He shot out of bed, pushed panicked family members aside and saw his wife stumbling out of their kitchen, engulfed in flames.

His wife, Nazeera, had been preparing breakfast at about 9 a.m. when she poured liquid from a cooking oil bottle into a hot pan. The liquid flashed, and the bottle exploded. While her four children watched, screaming, Nazeera was being burned alive.

“I rushed out of the room,” Saeed told Morning Star News, weeping. “I couldn’t even speak to ask her what happened. All I could think about was putting the fire out and then getting her to the hospital. But my 16-year-old son, he couldn’t stop himself and held on to her, hugging her while she was burning. He got hurt, and I had to pull him away from her.”

About two weeks later, Nazeera, 33, died as a result of her burns. When Saeed returned to his home in a village after her death, a relative told him the unthinkable – members of both his family and hers had taken the vegetable oil out of the bottle and replaced it with gasoline. Saeed knew the reason – many years ago, the two had become Christians and refused to return to Islam.

» Read full story.

BOOK: Critical Questions to Ask Before Going Overseas

Source: Equipping Servants International

Mission Smart: 15 Critical Questions to Ask Before Launching Overseas, by David L. Frazier. Equipping Servants International, 2013. 192 pages.

Those of us with a passion and position to mobilize the next generation of cross-cultural laborers sometimes forget that not everyone who volunteers to go has the calling, gifts, self-knowledge, training, and church support to make it as a cross-cultural missionary. David Frazier’s book encourages both goers and senders to slow down and confront unhealthy idealism. It takes a look at the gaps and asks 15 critical questions about missionary appointment, preparation, placement, and care. The book’s goal is to reduce attrition and send out well-prepared workers who understand their callings and are prepared to thrive cross-culturally.

Mission Smart also includes thoughtful questions and assignments for missionary candidates to work through with a mentor.

» Purchase from Amazon for US$11.70; US$9.99 for the Kindle edition.

PODCAST: Crescent Project Radio

Source: Crescent Project

Love Muslims? Listen to podcasts? Check out Crescent Project Radio, which airs every Wednesday night on Revival Radio WROL 950, a Christian radio station in Boston, Massachusetts.

Crescent Project is a nation-wide U.S. Christian ministry focused on equipping the Church to share the gospel with Muslims. Launched in January of 2014, Crescent Project radio is a half-hour program featuring powerful teaching, testimony, and truth about God’s miraculous movement in the Muslim world and how we as Christians can join him in this kingdom work.

One recent broadcast, dated August 22, explores the growing phenomenon of Christian women turning to Islam through relationships with Muslim men. Host Matt Bonner interviews one such woman and shares his findings about how and why this is happening and resources available to help.

» Learn more or listen to broadcasts on the Crescent Project website or subscribe in iTunes.

DOCUMENTARY: In the House of Islam

Source: World Christian

We’ve mentioned David Garrison’s book A Wind in the House of Islam several times. But did you know there’s now a documentary version? The DVD, In the House of Islam, provides an overview of Islam, the history of Christian-Muslim relations, and stories of the unprecedented movement of Muslims to Jesus occurring in our lifetime.

The same DVD includes a 17-minute version as well as 30- and 56-minute versions, and is produced by the video-sharing ministry, YWAM Organic.

» Learn more or purchase the DVD for US$18.39 from World Christian.

BOOK: Stories of Transformation from Kyrgyzstan

Source: Pioneers USA

God is transforming lives in Kyrgyzstan. A Pioneers worker serving in that country felt called to collect the testimonies of believers in Jesus from Muslim backgrounds, interviewed more than 100 of them (mostly Kyrgyz and Uzbek), and published this collection of 60 testimonies.

They Loved Not Their Lives: Stories of Transformation from Kyrgyzstan was originally published in the Kyrgyz language and with a local audience in mind, so even the English translation feels a bit rough. It does, however, include a helpful introduction and footnotes for non-English terminology. It also paints an accurate picture of common struggles and obstacles for Central Asians coming to Christ (including misconceptions that Christians worship three gods, ignore their parents, or have “sold” their religion to become Russians).

» Learn more or download the free ebook.