MIDDLE EAST: Praying for Syrian Refugees

Syria Circle VideoSource: The Syrian Circle

If you don’t understand what’s going in on in the Middle East, you’re not alone. This video explains the basics in about 90 seconds.

The Syrian Circle is a prayer movement surrounding Syrian refugees, starting with 31 days of prayer in December. Ways to be part of it include subscribing to email updates, following the movement on Facebook or Instagram, and reading and writing on the prayer wall.

» Visit the website.

» See also Dispatch from Aleppo (World Watch Monitor).

AFGHANISTAN: South African Christians Killed by Taliban

Source: INContext Ministries, November 29, 2014

Our hearts are broken. We have lost a dear friend, a faithful worker, and a precious soul-mate. Werner Groenewald and his two beautiful children, Jean-Pierre and Rhodé, were killed in a Taliban attack in Kabul on Saturday, November 29. Hannelie, his wife, was not at home during the time and survived the attacked but lost everything.

Three gunmen and suicide bombers stormed the compound where Werner and his family lived in Kabul on Saturday, exchanging fire with security forces before leaving Werner and his two children dead. Six other hostages were rescued after the afternoon attack while one Afghan worker also died in the attack.

A Taliban spokesman said in a statement that it was targeting “a secret Christian missionary and foreign invaders’ intelligence center.”

How do we express our deepest empathy and condolences with the family members who now have to face the reality of losing a son, a brother, a husband, and two children in one horrific incident of terror? What words or theology can relieve the pain?

Like Jesus at the grave of Lazarus, we can only weep.

» Read full story.

» See also Taliban Murder Four Humanitarian Aid Workers in Kabul (World Watch Monitor) and SA Doctor Still in Afghanistan after Family Killed (News24).

PAKISTAN: Eldest Son Witnessed Parents’ Deaths

Source: ASSIST News Service, November 27, 2014

Shahzad Masih, 26, and Shama Bibi, 24, were burnt alive for alleged blasphemy on Tuesday, November 4, in a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan of Kasur district, 31 miles from Lahore.

Shamim Masih, writing for the British Pakistani Christian Association, says that the eldest son of the couple, who witnessed the horrendous murder of his parents, has described what occurred.

He told the journalist, “Very early in the morning, the [brick kiln] supervisor, along with a few other men, came to house and took my parents with them. We were so scared. They started beating them with sticks and slapping them hard, so we started weeping and ran after our parents.

“Soon after, my uncle, Iqbal Masih [Shahzad’s brother], came out of his house to inquire about the incident, but they didn’t listen to him and locked up our parents in a nearby room, while all us children kept on weeping and we remained with our uncle in his house.”

» Read full story, which includes disturbing details about these deaths. It also describes the underlying religious tensions in this village and what has happened to the family since this event.

» Also read about Pakistan’s FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and how minority groups are fleeing: Pakistani Sikhs Back in the ‘Dark Ages’ of Religious Persecution (IPS News).

BANGLADESH: Two Pastors Charged for Proclaiming Christ to Muslims

Source: Morning Star News, November 24, 2014

On November 9, police arrested [two] pastors and 41 [other adults with their children], including Muslims, who were listening to proclamation of Christ at a rented house in Nabinagar village in Lalmonirhat District, 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest of Dhaka, after at least 100 Islamists disrupted the meeting and began “jabbing” at the church leaders’ faces, sources said.

The 41 people who were detained along with their children were released that night; the pastors of Faith Bible Church of God were not released on bail until November 17, charged with “hurting religious sentiments” and luring Muslims to convert by offering money. The church leaders deny both charges.

“We did not tell anything to anyone that might hurt religious sensibility,” one of the released pastors, Arif Mondol, told Morning Star News. “We did not offer any money to anyone to be converted to Christianity.”

» Read full story.

» See also Christian School Attacked in Bangladesh (ASSIST News Service) and read about the borderland islands or Sundarbans of West Bengal, India, in Women on the Edge of Land and Life (Inter Press Service News Agency).

WORLD: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Sources: various, via Pat Noble, December 2014

This is the time of year my mailbox is full of predictions for next year, summaries and analysis of the past year, and various ideas on how to have a better body, future, job, or whatever in 2015. Maybe we’ll share some of these in upcoming editions. But a few to pray about:

Vision of Humanity just published its 2014 Global Terrorism Index.

Which countries give the most? The answer might surprise you. See Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index 2014.

Every five years the people of Nepal (and many from the borderlands of India) perform a ritual that they hope will bring them good luck in days to come. Last Friday, what is believed to be the world’s largest animal sacrifice ceremony began. As you read about this tradition, pray for the people who participate.

DOWNLOADABLE: Advent Prayer Chain

Source: Weave

The countdown to Christmas is on! Focus your family on God’s global heart and purposes this advent season. Jesus came to redeem all peoples. Create an Advent Prayer Chain and set aside time each day to intercede for those who have never heard the gospel. Each link of the chain represents a people group – tribal, Hindu, unreligious, Muslim, or Buddhist – with simple descriptions and prayers in child-friendly language.

Nice job, Weave: an easy, kingdom-focused craft project and holiday decoration all in one!

» Download instructions and materials.

» Karen at Weave also told us about “a pretty cool prayer journal for families to pray for the world.” Check out 40 Days 40 Bites: A Family Guide to Pray for the World, written by Trudi Parkes of WEC. Available in the US from Amazon for US$7.03.

NEWSLETTER: Catalyst Postings

Source: Catalyst Services

Postings is a free, monthly e-newsletter of thoughtful and practical articles for church mission leaders. All the articles are posted on the web so you can download and share them with your missions team and other leaders. Take a look at these editions from 2014:

» Learn more or subscribe to receive monthly editions.

TRAINING: Short-Term Missions 101

Source: Delta Ministries

Looking for an online training curriculum you can use to equip mission team participants? Check out Short-Term Missions 101 from Delta Ministries. This new online course provides ideas, techniques, and skills designed to maximize the on-field experience for adults and youth serving on a short-term mission. Training includes eight self-paced sessions, each of which should take typical participants about three hours.

Topics include character transformation, cultural adaptation, team building, evangelism training, and some field-specific modules. Registration includes access to the online biblical DISC personality profile assessment.

» Learn more or register for US$45. Note that Delta Ministries offers many other resources for short-term teams, some of them free.

BOOK: Know & Go

Source: GMI Books

Know & Go: Inspiring and Informing Global Mission, edited by Jon Hirst. GMI Books, 2014. 85 pages.

“From the Apostle Paul to William Carey to Billy Graham, the Church’s greatest evangelists and missionaries combine zeal with real-world data about the people they seek to reach,” says the new GMI book, Know & Go, which features articles by top researchers with GMI, OC International, and Joshua Project, as well as a foreword by Paul Eshleman of Campus Crusade for Christ.

This book makes the case for why knowing about your world is important. It addresses the opportunities and tensions that come with living in the information age and offers perspective on how to respond. It includes a history of Christian map-making and celebrates some milestones in the ministry of GMI and its sister organizations in the world of mission research, but also includes a great chapter with practical thoughts on how to do research on a budget.

This quick, inspirational read may only find a small audience but it does a great job of encouraging people to see research as something they can do within their ministry context.

» Learn more or purchase the Kindle edition from GMI for US$9.99; US$14.99 for the paperback. But from now until Monday, it’s 50% off ($4.99 and $7.49). Several other GMI books are also 50% off during this period.