AZERBAIJAN: Bible Society Registers after 20 Years, But Will It Be Able to Print Bibles?

Source: World Watch Monitor, October 3, 2016

The recent registration of a Bible Society in Azerbaijan, after a 20-year fight, has brought fresh optimism to the country’s minority Christians, but there remains some confusion about the types of books it will be allowed to print, with even Bibles potentially falling foul of the country’s strict regulations.

Terje Hartberg from United Bible Societies called it “a great development, which will start a new chapter in Bible ministry for all Christians in Azerbaijan.”

However, all literature either printed or imported by the Bible Society will remain subject to approval by the government—with every publication labelled with an official sticker—and its distribution permitted only at state-approved venues.

» Read full story.

» Also see a story about neighboring Iran which describes that country’s church growth spurt (Mission Network News).

UZBEKISTAN: Punished for Religious Books at Home

Source: Forum18, September 29, 2016

A Baptist from Urgench [Urganch] in the north-western Khorezm Region has been punished for a second time within a year for having Christian books at home, which state officials regard as illegal. As this was a second punishment, Stanislav Kim was convicted under the Criminal Code, receiving a two-year corrective labor sentence.

A Presbyterian Christian in the capital Tashkent was fined in May for having religious literature at home. The Christian literature was ordered to be handed to the state-backed Muslim Board.

A criminal trial against him began in September for illegal use of computers.

In Surkhandarya Region, four Baptists were punished for religious literature confiscated during an illegal house search. Two Bibles, as well as other books and discs, were ordered destroyed. Officials claimed one book was banned because it could be used to spread a faith. They also claimed Baptists are banned in the region because they do not have state registration.

In Zarafshan, a Baptist pastor and his wife were fined for Bibles and Baptist song books seized from their home.

[These] eight individuals are among many punished for having personal religious literature in their homes. The authorities regard such possession of religious literature as illegal.

» Read full story.

JAPAN: New Era Begins for Gospel Radio

Source: TWR, August 9, 2016

Probably because of its long history as a mission field combined with its highly successful assimilation of Western-dominated industry and contemporary culture, many are surprised to learn that Japan still has one of the largest populations of people unreached by the gospel. That means only a tiny portion of its nearly 130 million people—significantly less than 1 percent, in fact—are evangelical Christians.

After a 2011 earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed the northeastern region of Tohoku, killing nearly 16,000, sparking meltdowns at nuclear reactors and driving more than 200,000 from their homes, many Japanese felt the certainty of their worldview had been undermined. The people seemed more open to hearing the gospel presented; the previously stony ground had begun to soften.

Another development at the same time facilitated the door opening: Radio, which had played a key role in informing the public during the crisis, gained renewed respect.

Along with people to handle organizational and technical matters, 25 pastors were recruited to develop and present the programming.

“We told them to preach a Christ-centered gospel message boldly,” said [TWR regional ministry director] Samuel Tan. “Anything not Christ-centered, delete. This is what people in Japan need.”

» Read full story.

SYRIA: “If There Are No Men to Lead the Church, I Will!”

Source: Joel News, October 2016

Mathild Sabbagh, 26, returns to her hometown. She is the first female minister in Syria. Her town in northern Syria is surrounded by ISIS. Last year her cousin was killed by Muslim extremists. Her brother who is also a pastor was kidnapped.

“If there are no men who can lead the church at this time, I’ll do it!”

Before the war her church still had almost 200 members, but today only 30 or 40 people have remained. ISIS has decimated the number of believers. “Some were killed, others fled. From my primary school friends no one stayed. Everybody’s gone. The war left our city shot to pieces and our entire community beaten apart.”

But it doesn’t keep Mathild from going back. She is more determined than ever, and feels a great sense of urgency. “I believe in the mysterious growth of the Kingdom of God, even against the odds. I go back to my church because I know I’m needed there. The church is like my own family. I’ve learned all my life that I can bring my talents to the church. So now I’ll bring what I have.”

» Read more of this story or subscribe to Joel News.

VIDEOS: Loving Your Neighbors

Sources: Deidox, Moving Works, and Prayercast

While many of the resources we feature here are designed to inspire and equip you (and those you might mobilize) for global service, today I want to share some great videos about showing love closer to home.

Turns out the principles are much the same. We still have internal resistance, issues with our priorities, and other barriers to overcome if we want to be obedient and make a difference in the lives of others.


Jay has been challenged to love his neighbors, but he can’t do it if he doesn’t know them. Watch as this Austin, Texas man and his wife wrestle with finding the time and then take a small but simple step. Love Your Neighbors—A Simple Step is part one in a series of three short videos from Deidox. The others will be out within the next two weeks. This first video, at just over four minutes long, might easily be folded into a presentation.

Moving Works has also released a new short video (5.5 minutes) about someone who has a conversation with God that leads her to reach out to love and serve a neglected population close to home. Watch Bettie Goes to Jail. Download a simple discussion guide for small groups.

Finally, our friends at Prayercast are part of an interesting campaign to raise up prayer for a city. They’re mobilizing praying for every one of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. Each day between September 8 and November 23, a prayer video for another neighborhood will be released. Check out Chicago77.

What would it look like to pray systematically for every inch of your city?

MOBILE MEDIA APP: Gospel Content in Global Languages

Source: SAT-7

Working with people who speak other languages? SAT-7 has free apps available for Apple and Android devices with streaming gospel content from each of their broadcast channels. These could be a great resource for anyone who knows a refugee or immigrant speaker of Arabic, Farsi, Dari, or Turkish. Use them as a witnessing tool, conversation starter, or resource for discipleship.

» Also check out TWR360, the multi-lingual media resources from TWR, accessible via the web or a free mobile app.

ONLINE COURSE: Crossing Cultures with Ruth

Source: GMI and Grow2Serve

The book Crossing Cultures with Ruth: Lessons on Thriving in Mission offers Kingdom workers encouragement and inspiration as they discern and work out God’s call in their lives. The book also provides practical insights based on James Nelson’s years of Fruitful Practice research into the best means and methods of missionary outreach.

Now available is a six-week online course that will enhance your learning and growth through purposeful interaction in a community with the book, author, a course facilitation team, and other learners.

  • Approximate time commitment: 24 hours
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Dates: October 1 to November 11, 2016
  • Cost: US$60 per person, with discounts for group registration

Included in your course fee is a download of Crossing Cultures with Ruth and Crossing Cultures with Ruth: Study Guide for Christian Workers.

(Ring a bell? We highlighted the book and study guide when they were published earlier, and I, Marti, co-authored the study guide).

» Learn more or register for the course.

» See also an affordable, 25-hour online course called Evangelism: Abundantly Sowing the Seed (with World Team) and an 8-10-hour course in Animism and Folk Religion (with SEND International).

DVDs: The Jesus Accounts and Jesus, Son of God?

Source: The Jesus Accounts

Several years back we published a review of The Jesus Accounts: Fact or Fiction?, a high-quality, half-hour documentary designed to explain the reliability of the Bible and answer the most common objections or misunderstandings in a positive and respectful way. You can watch or share it online in Arabic, Russian, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek, Bengali, Turkish, Chinese (several versions), and Urdu, as well as English, or get it on DVD for a reasonable price.

Now, a second documentary of the same length addresses and attempts to clarify what it means when we say Jesus is the son of God. Jesus, Son of God? was filmed in Turkey and the UK and has been dubbed into Arabic, Russian, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Uzbek, and Bengali; there’s also an English version with simplified Chinese subtitles.

Though these videos are designed primarily with a Muslim audience in mind, Islam is not mentioned in either one. I think you will find them useful with secular or Christian friends as well. A third video dealing with the historicity of the crucifixion is currently in production.

» Preview both films and their trailers in English on YouTube or go to each film’s website to learn much more about these projects or buy DVDs.

EVENTS: Upcoming Conference, Courses, and More

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

October 3 to February 12, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Course (online). Provided on a regular basis by the Perspectives Study Program.

October 5 to November 30, Mobilizer Equipping School (Chiang Mai, Thailand). Provided by Student Volunteer Movement 2.

October 7-8, Missions Fest Seattle (Bellevue, WA, USA). Free, annual community-wide event.

October 8, Costly Call: Following Jesus in a Hostile World (Lynnfield, MA, USA). One-day event sponsored by New England Perspectives Study Program and the J. Christy Wilson, Jr. Center for World Missions.

October 10-11, Support Raising Bootcamp (Tulsa, OK, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

October 11-14, Support Raising Leaders Conference (Tulsa, OK, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions (and partners).

October 11 to November 8, Expand Your Mission Through Media (for Women) (online). Mission Media U course to develop a media project plan.

October 13, Protecting Your Ministry from Sexual Identity and Gender Issues (online). Webinar provided by Missio Nexus.

October 13-15, Open B4T Expo (Chicago, IL, USA). Transforming nations through business.

October 14-15, People Raising Conference (Oak Brook, IL, USA). Be equipped for raising personal support.

October 14-16, Evangelical Missiological Society (Dallas, TX, USA). Annual meeting, this time focused on “Missions and the Local Church.”

October 16-19 and 20-23, Thrive Retreats (Cape Town, South Africa). For North American women serving cross-culturally.

October 16-21, ABIDE (Joplin, MO, USA). Re-entry and debriefing for singles, couples, and families provided by TRAIN International.

October 17-19, Excellerate Conference (Alpharetta, GA, USA). A mission conference for church leaders. Hosted by North Point Ministries.

October 19, Set Apart: Connecting the Local Church to God’s Work (online). Free webinar from Sixteen:Fifteen.

» View the calendar, with some big events coming up in November as well. Planning a mission event for December (or any other time down the road)? Please let me know!