PODCAST: Voices from Europe

Source: Pioneers in Europe

Is listening to podcasts part of your commute, workout, or morning routine? Check out a new podcast featuring conversations with veteran church planters and mission leaders from various sending countries who work among the least reached in Europe.

They’re all with Pioneers (also the agency that sponsors Missions Catalyst), but they do a great job describing what it’s like to serve in their contexts and providing solid, thoughtful advice for anyone considering joining ministries in these places. Each episode is about 20 minutes long.

Episode 1: Martin, a European serving in the UK
Episode 2: Graham, an Australian serving in Italy
Episode 3: Steve, an American serving in France
Episode 4: James, a American serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Episode 5: Lauren, an Australian serving in France
Episode 6: Shane, an Australian serving in Spain

» Listen to the Pioneers in Europe podcast.

» I’ve also been listening to a podcast some of you might enjoy called Taking Route. It’s a bi-weekly podcast for expat women about living abroad, and it’s hilarious! What’s in your earbuds? Let me know (especially if it’s appropriate to feature in Missions Catalyst).

BOOK: African Christian Leadership

Source: African Leadership Study

African Christian Leadership: Realities, Opportunities, and Impact, edited by Robert J. Priest and Kirimi Barine. Orbis Books, 2017. 320 pages.

Wish you had a better understanding of the issues and questions African Christians face as they seek to live out their faith in their cultural context? Wonder how Africans themselves frame these questions and their answers?

Would you like access to actual research that can confirm your own experience or bring new information to your attention that would deepen and broaden your understanding?African Christian Leadership, the result of a multiyear study implemented by African scholars, offers insights on the support and training necessary to promote African Christianity and to foster the healthy development of Africa. Featuring input from over 8,000 African survey participants and dozens of in-depth interviews, it provides invaluable insight and concise analysis of the dynamics of the development of African Christian leaders today.

» Learn more or purchase the Kindle edition for US$15.12. Also available in paperback. Want to dig deeper into the data and analysis? The Africa Leadership Study website includes resources to help you engage further.

EVENT: US-Based Mission Exposure Tours

Source: Global Frontier Missions

Are you a pastor or missions leader looking for ways to help your church catch a vision for global missions or international ministry in your hometown? Looking for an opportunity to give your family or small group a cross-cultural experience that will impact their worldview? Maybe you’re a college student looking for exposure to unreached people groups and cultures without spending a fortune. Check this out.

Every month, Global Frontier Missions offers “Global Missions Journeys,” reasonably priced, thoughtfully designed, weekend experiences in multi-ethnic Clarkston, GA for missions exposure and training. They include mission education, prayer walking, interacting with people from different cultures and religions, and resources you can take home to use in engaging your local church in cross-cultural ministry at home and abroad. GFM adheres to the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission, and that’s always a good sign.

“Global Missions Tours,” scaled down to eight hours, are also available in Atlanta, Houston, and Richmond, and now in Sydney, Australia.

» Learn more. Other opportunities from GFM include internships, missionary training programs, and an online course.

» This and several other mission exposure programs are described in Start Here: First Steps to Ministry with Least-Reached Peoples (Catalyst Services).

EVENTS: Upcoming Conferences and Courses

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

February 1, Five Types of Strategies for Mission Organizations (online). Webinar from Missio Nexus.

February 2-3, Santa Barbara Mission Conference (Santa Barbara, CA, USA). An annual event.

February 2-4, Missionfest Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

February 2-8, Thrive Retreat (Paphos, Cypress). For North American women serving cross-culturally.

February 5 to June 10, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (online). This intro-to-missions course follows a four-month format.

February 6-9, Support Raising Leaders Conference (Orlando, FL, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

February 11-23, Second Language Acquisition Course (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.

February 12 to March 10, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Missionary Training International.

February 14-21, Learning Culture through Purposeful Observation (online). Course provided by the Center for Intercultural Training (CIT).

February 14 to March 25, Seek God for the City (global). Annual prayer campaign coordinated by Seek God for the City.

February 15 to March 15, Foundations of Media Strategy (online). Training course from Mission Media U.

February 18-23, ABIDE (Joplin, MO, USA). Debriefing and re-entry help for returning missionaries.

February 21, Mobilizing the Next Generation of Missionaries (online). Free webinar from 16:15 and Cafe 10/40.

February 21-23, International Conference on Turkey (Mesa, AZ, USA). Sponsored by the International Turkey Network.

February 21 to March 21, Story in Ministry (online). Mentored course by Mission Media U on applying elements of story to your outreach.

February 22-23, Standards Introductory Workshop (Portland, OR, USA) presented by Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

February 23-24, Midwest Conference on Missionary Care (Burnsville, MN, USA). An annual event.

February 23-24, Defy the Ordinary (Portland, OR, USA). Conference focusing on short-term missions presented by Short-Term Mission ConneXion and Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

February 23-25, Missions Fest Alberta (Edmonton, AB, Canada). Free, annual, community-based mission festival for all ages.

» View the complete calendar. Please let us know about mistakes or omissions. For more about a specific event, though, contact the event organizers.

News Briefs from the Nations

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_large

  1. EGYPT: “Yes, I Am a Christian”
  2. CHINA: New Religious Affairs Regulations Expected Soon
  3. FINLAND: Hundreds of Muslims Coming to Christ
  4. BURKINA FASO: Thousands Call for Doctor’s Release
  5. LAOS: A Church for the So

Greetings,

Open Doors recently released the 2018 edition of their World Watch List. Though it does not change much from year to year, read Good News from the Persecuted Church (Gateway News) for insights on what’s different this year (including some reasons to celebrate). You may also appreciate Ed Stetzer’s thoughtful article, What Persecution Is and Isn’t and How to Respond (Christianity Today).

Today’s edition starts with a story from Open Doors and includes several additional articles related to persecution and religious liberty.

Thanks for praying!

For those in chains,
Pat

WWL 2018simplified map

The World Watch List is an annual publication that reports on the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. Read more below or see the complete report (Open Doors).

EGYPT: “Yes, I Am a Christian”

Source: Open Doors, January 21, 2018

“Are you Christian?”

The 27-year-old husband and father of five Bassem Herz Attalhah didn’t hesitate to answer.

“Yes, I am Christian,” he told his attackers and then immediately proclaimed his faith a second time in a loud voice: “Yes, I am Christian.”

Bassem was on his way home from work in El-Arish, where he and his brother, Osama, had opened a mobile phone shop. He was with Osama and their neighbor and friend Mohamed when three men stopped them and asked Bassem to show them the wrist of his right hand (Coptic Christians wear a small black tattoo of a cross on their right wrist—a visible reminder and sign of their faith and also a form of identification since many churches station security at their doors to check that those entering are Christians).

When the men saw the tattoo of the cross, they asked Bassem the fatal question. The men then asked Mohamed his name and made him show his wrist. When they saw he had no tattoo, he was allowed to leave. Then they turned to Osama.

“Bassem told them that I had children,” Osama recalls. “They asked me to show them the wrist of my right hand and, when they didn’t see any cross, they thought that I was Muslim.” (The men didn’t see the cross that Osama has tattooed on the top of his hand, hidden by his sleeve.)

“We lost a person dear to our hearts,” Osama said. “My brother Bassem was a very good and kind man. He had a strong relationship with God. He was always reading in the Bible, praying, and going to the church. He was loved by all people.”

When Bassem’s close friend Milad Wasfi heard he had been killed, he couldn’t believe it and called his friend’s phone. His call was answered, but not by his friend.

“The terrorists answered me and said they belong to State of Sinai and promised to kill more Copts before they put down the phone,” he told World Watch Monitor.

» Full story includes a prayer for the Christians of Egypt and says the war on Christianity in Egypt is intensifying. In 2017, 130 Christians were reportedly killed for their faith.

CHINA: New Religious Affairs Regulations Expected Soon

Source: Mission Network News, January 22, 2018

According to Release International, the Chinese government is planning to unveil a new set of regulations on religious affairs next month. These new regulations may give the government more control over state churches and tighten the pressure on unregistered churches.

China also recently grabbed international attention when the Golden Lampstand Church, an evangelical megachurch in the Shanxi Province, was demolished by military police. It was the latest in a string of oppressive movements by local governing officials to restrict and regulate spiritual life.

To be fair, China is a massive country holding one-fifth of the world’s population. So the oppression Christians in China face varies from region to region.

[David Curry, President of Open Doors USA] says a lot of the paranoia when it comes to religion in China can be boiled down to one thing: nationalism. Christianity is viewed by the Chinese government as a Western religion. And in a country steeped heavily in Communist principles, any Western influence is considered a threat.

» Full story provides food for thought about government efforts to harness religion not only in China today but other times and places as well.

» See The Chinese Church Prepares for Missions for insight on challenges and opportunities for Chinese in global ministry (China Source).

» Also related to religious law, you may have heard Bolivia made evangelism a crime. Looks like that decision is being reversed (Christianity Today).

FINLAND: Hundreds of Muslims Coming to Christ

Source: Interserve, January 2018

A report in the Finnish media says that within the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, Muslims are changing allegiance to Christ in numbers estimated to be in the hundreds over recent years. What’s going on?

These people are from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and other Muslim countries. The numbers are sufficient to prompt Lutheran parishes to establish special confirmation classes for Muslim immigrants seeking to follow Jesus.

The report says that about 20 Afghan men are currently attending “pre-confirmation” classes at a parish center in Imatra in Eastern Finland. The teachers use a New Testament in the Dari language (a Persian dialect), which is spoken in Afghanistan.

While some who are seeking to change allegiance said that disillusionment with Islam was the key reason, others said they felt life as a “Christian” would help them fit into Finnish society, according to Sputnik News, which also speculates that there could be an underlying reason to guard themselves against possible deportation.

In Finland 4.1 million of the 5.5 million people are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and a June 2016 Guardian article cited anecdotal data of rising Christian church attendance by Muslims right across the Eurozone.

Take for instance, Trinity church in the Berlin suburb of Steglitz, which saw its congregation grow from 150 to 700 due to people from Muslim families changing faith allegiance to Jesus. The Austrian Catholic Church also saw its applications for adult baptism swell by nearly 70% in the first three months of 2016.

» Full story based on an article published in the Christian Post in July.

» See also these other stories related to global migration: Christian Convert from Iran Converting Muslims in Sweden (Fox News), Four Ways to Meet a Refugee (Faith and Forced Migration), and What Christians in the US Can Learn from Immigrant Pastors (Christianity Today).

BURKINA FASO: Thousands Call for Release of Doctor

Source: World Watch Monitor, January 17, 2018

Thousands took to the streets of Djibo, a northern town in Burkina Faso, on [January 15] to call for the government to secure the release of an Australian doctor, Ken Elliott, kidnapped two years ago. The abduction was claimed by a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Djibo, in the province of Soum, is the town where Dr. Elliott, with his wife, had run a 120-bed clinic for 40 years until their abduction. Jocelyn Elliott was released in February 2016; the Islamist group said in an audio recording that it released Mrs. Elliott so as “not to make women involved in the war.”

The demonstrators claim that the government has not kept its promise to re-open the only medical clinic in the town. An open letter addressed to President Roch Marc Kaboré, read aloud, stated a request that the surgeon’s clinic, the result of a 40-year commitment, be continued.

Dr. Elliott, who is believed to be held outside Burkina Faso, was declared a citizen of the West African nation by an official decree in November 2016.

The couple’s abduction coincided with a jihadist assault on an upmarket hotel in Ouagadougou in January 2016, which left at least 30 people dead, including seven missionaries.

» Full story describes the desparate medical situation in this region. See also the latest WWM report about Andrew Brunson, imprisoned in Turkey.

LAOS: A Church for the So

Source: OMF International, December 2017

Ten years ago, very few, if any, So people called on Jesus as Lord [and] very few of them had ever heard the name of Jesus or the gospel message.

Through a combination of miracles, intentional discipleship, and testing through persecution, the first So church was established in 2013. Initially, many of the new believers knew Jesus more as healer than savior.

The Christians who first began working among the So continued to disciple the new church’s leaders wherever they could—in the jungle, in boats, guesthouses, or in town.

They answered every question the new believers had, such as how to say prayers before sleep or in the morning, how to not take part in temple ceremonies but still be a part of their community, how to do a Christian wedding, how to bless a new house, and how to officiate funerals. Everything was modeled and practiced before the new church. Then, the older Christians helped the So Christians do it. Finally, discipleship and encouragement was given over the phone and the So believers began doing it on their own.

Today there are about seven So churches serving more than 260 So believers. The churches are elder-led and share the responsibility for shepherding, discipling, teaching and starting new groups. Some of the churches have seen started spreading the gospel to other people groups in the region.

» Full story further illustrates the “Model, Assist, Watch, Leave” (MAWL) method for cross-cultural church planting. Learn more about people groups of the Mekong region.