INDIA: Christian Man Forced to Separate from Hindu Wife

Source: World Watch Monitor, October 3, 2014

An Indian couple who married September 26 had their marriage annulled five days later by police under pressure from Hindu nationalists.

The couple, Joseph Pawar and Ayushi Wani, were arrested in Gujarat after complaints that Pawar, a Christian, had lured his Hindu bride into marriage.

The forced dissolution of the marriage quickly drew protests from India’s Christian groups, who have attempted to put pressure on Narendra Modi, the new prime minister of India, for what they say is his persistent silence in the face of increased violence towards Christians and other religious minorities.

In a report issued in New Delhi on September 27, a group of Indian religious leaders accused Modi of remaining mute during 600 incidents targeting religious minorities since his landslide election victory in May.

» Read full story.

» Also read Buddhist Nationalist Group in Burma Calls for Restrictions on Interfaith Marriage (The Washington Post). And in another story from South Asia, Pakistan Mob Kills Christian Couple over Alleged Blasphemy (BBC).

NEPAL: Prime Minister Pledges Religious Freedom

Source: Barnabas Aid, October 15, 2014

In a welcome move for Christians, the Prime Minister of Nepal has made a public commitment that religious freedom will be upheld in the country’s long-awaited constitution.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala made the assurance on October 6 during an address to Muslims in the Hindu-majority country. During his speech, the Prime Minister praised the cordial relations that he said exist between Nepalis who follow different religions, cultures, and traditions, and said that Nepal is strengthened by this mutual tolerance.

The Prime Minister’s pledge may help to quell fears that religious repression in Nepal could intensify when the interim constitution becomes law. A proposed “anti-conversion” clause in the document, which has been under debate since 2008, currently states that “no person shall be entitled to convert another person from one religion to another.”

If the anti-conversion clause were to become law, this would undermine the Prime Minister’s promise to protect religious freedom. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has been signed and ratified by Nepal, protects religious freedom and includes the right for every person to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

» Read full story. Readers might also be interested in Elizabeth Kendal’s recent analysis of global trends that affect religious liberty and persecution (Critical Prayer Requests blog).

UZBEKISTAN: Christian Home Raided

Source: Worthy Christian News, October 15, 2014

A Christian in Uzbekistan has been fined and threatened with further punishment after religious literature was seized from his home during a raid by Uzbek police in August, according to Barnabas Aid.

Artur Alpayev was fined 50 times Uzbekistan’s minimum monthly wage for storing religious literature at his home in Navoi. During sentencing, Judge Oltinbek Mansurov said, “We will continue fining you unless you stop storing religious literature in your home.”

The judge said that the literature should have been stored in a building belonging to a registered religious organization, but Alpayev is a member of a Christian denomination that refuses on principle to seek state registration.

» Read full story. For regular news and analysis of religious liberty issues in Central Asia, see Forum18 News Service.

VIETNAM: Evangelist Seeks to Extend Gospel to Unreached Tribes

Source: Christian Aid Mission, October 16, 2014

The head of a team of Vietnamese evangelists has survived torture and the threat of being killed in prison, but that has only reinforced his determination to get the gospel to ethnic groups who have never heard the message.

Su and his team have planted hundreds of churches elsewhere, especially among highland tribes, where thousands of people who once followed multiple gods and spirits now worship Christ.

One people group Su’s teams have reached is the Khmu, whose traditional animism dictates refraining from violating certain taboos – touching an altar or amulet in a house, for example – that might exact the vengeance of spirits. Appeasing the rice goddess with ritual dancing is a common practice in hopes of a productive harvest.

“There was a Khmu tribal group with a population of about 60,000, and no believers whatsoever,” he said. “There was a boy whose parents passed away, and he was adopted by another tribal group, a Christian group. When he was 20, he went back to the Khmu and boldly preached the gospel. Now there is a church there because of that one young man.”

» See full story with picture, which also describes how Su and his team approach ministry.

Missions Catalyst News Feature

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn This Issue: Move of God in the Middle East

Dear readers,

As our recent edition of news stories with happy endings was quite well received, we thought we would also pass on this encouraging feature just out from God Reports.

This special edition also includes an infographic from GMI calling us to prayer for the Middle East. Very timely in light of the upcoming International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church to be observed November 2 and 9. If you’re interested, check out a November 1 and 2 live webcast from Open Doors featuring special guests David Platt and Nik Ripkin and a November 2 radio broadcast from Mission Network News featuring Voice of the Martyr’s Todd Nettleton.

Thanks for reading and for praying. May God be glorified in the Middle East… and, indeed, among all the nations!

Marti Wade
Managing Editor

The Extraordinary Move of God in the Middle East

By Mark Ellis, God Reports, October 28, 2014

The nightly news may present disturbing images and a bleak outlook for the Middle East. Yet behind the horror of war, God is touching hearts in powerful ways, unleashing his Spirit among refugees, their families, and into surrounding communities and nations.

“There is something happening right now that is unprecedented,” says Brother Thomas (pseudonym), a Middle East coordinator for All Nations. “The spiritual openness is incredible.”

On a recent trip into a refugee camp he met with a Muslim family inside their tent. The father—the patriarch of the family—started to tell him about his son Yusuf, who sat next to him. (Yusuf is the Arabic equivalent of the biblical name Joseph)

“Do you know about the prophet Joseph?” Thomas inquired.

“Yes, he’s one of my favorites; he’s the dreamer,” the man replied.

“Have you had any dreams of significance?” Thomas asked the son.

“No, but my mother has…”

His mother excitedly broke in: “Ever since he was a child I’ve had dreams of a man in glowing white hugging my son. In the last dream he was crying, and his tears were coming down his beard and on to my son’s head.

“I have such a warmth for this prophet,” she continued. “I know he is a prophet.”

“I know who that person is in your dream,” Thomas said with assurance.

The woman’s eyes widened with intense interest. “Who is it?”

“It is Jesus.”

Then Brother Thomas told them the story of Jesus’ love for children, when He said, “Let the little children come to me.”

The woman began to cry. “It was so moving for her to hear someone loves her family so much he would give her dreams demonstrating his love.”

As he toured the ramshackle refugee camp with structures composed of cardboard, wood slats, and plastic tarps, he found many who had similar encounters with God. “Almost every family we visited had some kind of experience, either through dreams or someone had given them a New Testament in the medical clinic or prayed for them,” he noted.

Brother Thomas observed a feeling of desperation that pervaded the camps. “There was a lot of fear and uncertainty about the future,” he discovered. “Every family has lost people through warfare or has a story of pain. Because the war is Muslim against Muslim they have a feeling there has to be something better. They are looking for answers.”

“Over and over we saw people who have questions, who want to know more about Jesus.”

Brother Thomas knows other Christian workers equally amazed. “I have friends who have been here 17-20 years and it’s mind boggling for them,” he says. “Previously they shared with someone for seven or eight years before they came to know Jesus. Now it happens in two or three months and they bring others with them.”

While this move of God seems to have originated in the refugee camps, it is not contained there. “It’s happening everywhere, but mostly around the refugees,” Thomas notes. “There is something happening in the spiritual atmosphere because these refugees are so open and so hungry.

“As they respond, the neighboring countries are responding in the same way. Something is being stirred up. People are coming into the kingdom practically without us—we get to be the midwives.”

Brother Thomas is struck by the contrast between the grim news portrayed on television and the reality of God’s work behind the scenes. “When I watch the news, it seems like things are getting worse,” he observes. “But when I talk to my friends in the area I see the Kingdom is coming—people are coming to the Lord. Whole families are coming to Christ, communities are changing, I can see the Kingdom expanding.”

» Full story with pictures.

Middle East Call to Prayer

Middle East Missiographic 2Source: GMI Missiographics, October 28, 2014

How did the area of the world known as the birthplace of civilization and later Christianity become a place so hostile to the followers of Jesus? Explore some of the history of Christianity in the Middle East, the current decline in Christian population and the glimmers of hope that are visible if you know where to look.

» View or download infographic and commentary.

Missions Catalyst Resource Reviews

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn This Issue: Stories of hope, spiritual equipping, and more

Arop2

See how a devastating tsunami changed the work of Bible translation in this new documentary from Wycliffe Bible Translators.

BOOK: The Finish Line, Stories of Hope through Bible Translation

Source: Wycliffe Bible Translators

The Finish Line: Stories of Hope through Bible Translation, by Bob Creson (with Carol Schatz). Wycliffe Bible Translators, 2014. 148 pages.

Until the year 2000, the number of languages researchers believed would need their own translation of the Bible was growing. It topped out at around 3,000, and then, for the first time, began to drop. Today, due to new technologies, strategic alliances, and the sacrificial service of translators worldwide, the number keeps dropping. “We are participating in the greatest acceleration of the pace of Bible translation ever witnessed by the Church,” says Bob Creson, president and CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA. “In light of the current pace, we know that the last translator—the translator for the last language needing Bible translation—is alive somewhere in the world today!”

The Finish Line is a book about the task of Bible translation and includes stories from the experiences of Creson and his family as well as many others. It’s an inspiring and easy read and of course includes suggestions for how we can be part of this work. At points this feels a bit like a Wycliffe infomercial, though a winsome one, but the ministry’s commitment to celebrating partnership with other organizations lessens that effect.

» Purchase the Kindle edition, currently priced at US$.99; US$10 for the paperback. Watch an author interview (CBN).

» You might also be interested in Arop, a recently released 30-minute video from Wycliffe. It beautifully tells the story of what God did through a translation effort in Papua New Guinea and can be watched online or downloaded for use with groups.

VIDEOS: Pray for Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and More

Source: Prayercast

Prayercast, producers of high-quality, free videos that encourage prayer for the nations of the world, are now working on materials to inform and inspire prayer for the followers of various world religions. As with the “nations” videos, each one is narrated by the prayers of someone from the same background as those for whom they are praying.

Be sure to check out some great related materials, including succinct summaries of each religious group’s background, beliefs, what God is doing among them today, and how we can pray, as well as audio files in which the narrators tell their own stories of coming to know Jesus Christ. These and the videos could be good resources to use with groups and classes.

So far, there are pages about Atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Judaism, Mormonism, and Occultism, and more are to come. I found the material about praying for atheists particularly insightful.

» Watch videos and learn more. Note that the world religions map is interactive: scroll over the name of a religion to see where followers are concentrated. See also a new video about praying for the Ebola crisis.