CHAD: “It’s Your Fault He Died!”

Source: Open Doors, August 3, 2017

Samuel entered the dark hut to see his cousin lying on a mat, drenched in sweat and curled up in excruciating pain. Occasionally Alphonse mustered what little strength was left in his body to lift himself onto one elbow and vomit into a bucket his children had placed next to him.

“You need to take your father to a hospital,” Samuel told Alphonse’s children. “This looks like appendicitis.”

The children refused. They were determined to stick to superstitious medicinal concoctions instead, afraid they might offend the spirits by seeking modern medical care. When there was no improvement a few days later they decided to take Alphonse to the hospital but it was too late. Alphonse died shortly after surgery.

A family member phoned from the hospital to tell Samuel the tragic news and then declared, “It is your fault he has died! You told us to take him to hospital, and that is where he died!”

Samuel knew the community would side with the family of Alphonse so he gathered all his family members and sought refuge at the home of the village head. While Samuel’s family was safe inside those walls, their property was sat unguarded. Alphonse’s children burned it all down.

“I lost everything,” Samuel remembers. “We had a barn full of food, farm produce, farm equipment, and other personal belongings. Everything was lost in the fire. All we had left were the clothes on our bodies. Initially, I filed a lawsuit against them. But then I had second thoughts. I concluded that it was not worth it. Even though I continue to receive threats from them, I have decided to forgive everything. I have forgiven them completely.”

When Open Doors heard about the incident, we visited Samuel and his family to encourage them and pray with them. We also helped them afford a temporary place to stay while they rebuilt their home. The project has since been completed and Samuel’s family have moved into their new home.

“I have hope because I know that nothing is impossible for God. Even if men forsake me, God will never forsake me,” Samuel said. “He will restore me unto his glory.”

» Read full story with prayer points.

» See also a story on the cost of conversion in a West African culture where peace is everything (Pioneers).

Tremendous obstacles, transformed lives | World News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn This Issue:

  1. THAILAND: Some Jungles Have Wifi
  2. NORTH KOREA: Government Agent Accepted Jesus on His Deathbed
  3. MALAWI: Saladin’s Struggle
  4. GREECE: Turning Hearts of Stone to Hearts of Flesh
  5. SAUDI ARABIA: Reaching Mecca

… And find more stories in our Twitter feed. We’re approaching 5,000 followers and would love to have you join us there!

Greetings,

Midsummer is a time when many in North America are more likely to be awed by the night sky. I am looking forward to watching the lunar eclipse August 21.  If you are in the US, you might find this tool helpful to determine when it will affect your city.

As I read the headlines, I am constantly asking what “news” is heaven interested in? One could also ask what AWES heaven? What should awe Christians? Rev. Tad de Bordenave of Anglican Frontier Missions ponders this in his recent post Bottom Dwellers, Black Holes, and the Bagri. In light of today’s edition, I might add to the alliteration: Bangkok.

In AWE of him who created all,
Pat

THAILAND: Some Jungles Have Wifi

Source: Commnet Media

The Bangkok Metro Region is home to nearly 15 million people. Less than one percent of them follow Jesus. That means millions may not even know a single believer. Not one. It’s our prayer to see that change. It’s going to take a ridiculous amount of work in a place that’s hotter, harder, and more complex that you can imagine. It’s not going to be easy.

» Thanks for praying and mobilizing for Thailand. See more resources from Commnet, including four more new videos about ministry in Thailand. Any you use in your own context?

NORTH KOREA: Government Agent Accepted Jesus on His Deathbed

Source: ASSIST News Service, July 25, 2017

“Like so many Christian families, our family was banished in the 1950s to a remote village,” Kim Sang-Hwa told Open Doors. “They continued to hide their faith from the outside world.”

“When I was 12, I accidentally found a Bible my parents had hidden in their closet. I don’t know why, but I started to feel inside the cabinet with my hand, pulled out a book and began to read.”

“To me all those stories and ideas were so interesting. I also read the Bible for myself. But I realized it was dangerous. My father always emphasized not to share anything with anyone else. Then he would start to pray in whispers, almost inaudible. ‘Father, help the North Korean people to seek your Kingdom first’.”

She learned that her father met people in secret location, as part of the underground church. “Many children of believers came to that location too and learned the Bible. We prayed together.”

But Sang-Hwa and her parents were unaware that government agents had infiltrated the underground meetings. “Among the people visiting the secret meetings were some non-believers too, even spies,” she told Open Doors.

When one of those visitors was dying, her father went to see him on his deathbed. The man confessed his duplicitous intentions: “I know everything about you, your family and your faith. I was a spy and ordered to watch you,” he told her startled father.

Amazingly, the government agent never turned them in. As he observed the believers praying and singing, his heart softened toward them.

“You are a good man. I never told anyone you were a Christian,” he told Sang-Hwa’s father. “Tell me how I can become a Christian too.”

» Read full story and the more complete report from Open Doors.

» See another story from Open Doors, this one from Myanmar: How an Ex-Soldier Braved Demons to Bring a Buddhist Village to Christ.

MALAWI: Saladin’s Struggle

Source: FEBC, July 31, 2017

Saladin is from Malawi in Africa, and had been a Muslim for over 38 years before becoming a Christian. Saladin held a number of positions in local Muslim leadership. He was the secretary of the Muslim council in the eastern region of Malawi, and also worked as the vice president of the Muslim Teachers Union.

While in these positions and practicing his Muslim faith, he kneeled down to pray late one evening.

“As I was doing this I saw a vision. I saw Muslims, a large multitude of Muslims, who were weeping, and I saw my brother and I saw my uncle, and they were filled with sorrow. I saw that they were crying, saying, ‘Saladin, please rescue us!’”

Saladin woke up and wrote down what he’d just dreamt about, and from there, he left Islam in search of the truth. Soon he found Jesus Christ and accepted him as his Lord and Savior.

“After I accepted Jesus Christ, I was rejected by my family and treated as an outcast. The Muslim Teachers Union told me I was going to be killed according to Sharia law. I told them that I wasn’t there to attack them, I am here to preach about the one true, living God.”

It continues to be a struggle for Saladin, yet he now goes door to door telling people to accept Jesus Christ. He has been threatened and scorned, yet God has protected him.

» Read full story and more news from FEBC, a radio broadcasting ministry.

» For another article about God raising up and sending out messengers, see The Secret Lives of Chinese Missionaries in Northern Iraq (South China Morning Post).

GREECE: Turning Hearts of Stone to Hearts of Flesh

Source: Beyond, August 2017

There was an Afghan man that would come to an Athens refugee center regularly named Ali. He was devout in his faith and threatened anyone he saw that showed interest in Christ or asked questions.

In January, Ali gathered a group of Afghan men and surrounded an Iranian believer, Fardin, and said he needed to come do namaz (Muslim prayers) or they were going to kill him. Thankfully some people came and broke it all up before they could hurt him.

A few months after this incident Ali had an extended family member that really needed help. We provided Ali with the resources necessary to help. [Later] he said with tears in his eyes, “You covered my shame by allowing me to be involved and you restored my honor. I will never forget this.” After saying that he left.

Last month, Fardin was leaving our refugee center and heard Ali shout, “Hey, Fardin. Come over here.” Fardin said his stomach dropped and he wondered if he was going to get beaten again, and he even asked God why he let Ali find him again. When Fardin approached Ali, Ali threw his arms around him and called him brother. Ali said, “We are brothers now! I believe. I love Jesus!” Fardin stood there with his mouth opened, shocked at what had just happened. Ali said, “Why do you look so surprised? God is big! I believe!”

We serve a God that is actively turning hearts of stone to hearts of flesh.

» Read full story, followed by one about new believers starting house churches within a week of coming to know the Lord.

SAUDI ARABIA: Reaching Mecca

Source: Arab World Media, July 31, 2017

At the end of August, millions of Muslims from across the globe will head to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. They will be taking part in the Hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam and a pilgrimage every Muslim must strive to make at least once in their lifetime.

You probably know that only Muslims may enter the city of Mecca, the holiest site in Islam and the central focus of the Hajj. Because of this ruling, it would be natural to assume that those who live within Mecca’s walls are impossible to reach.

Saudi Arabia is a closed country in many senses, but clearly not all of its people are closed to the gospel. From January to June 2017, Saudi nationals were the fourth highest nationality visiting our ministry website. During this period we had 1,060 interactions with individuals in Saudi. Of these, 295 were in active contact with one of our responders and 14 made professions of faith.

Praise God that even in Islam’s birthplace there is hope and longing for Jesus Christ.

» Read full story.

» For more about the Hajj and how to pray, visit the Pray4Saudi website.

ALGERIA: Jailed Christian Gets Partial Presidential Pardon

Source: World Watch Monitor, July 12, 2017

A Christian imprisoned for three years for “insulting Islam and the prophet Muhammad” in his social media posts has received a partial presidential pardon.

Slimane Bouhafs, who converted to Christianity from Islam in 1997, was arrested almost a year ago (July 31, 2016) for posting a message on social media about the light of Jesus overcoming the “lie” of Islam and its prophet. Such a message was judged by the authorities to insult Islam—the state religion in Algeria, according to its constitution.

He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on September 6, 2016.

But now his sentence has been reduced by 16 months, following a partial pardon granted by Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of Algeria’s independence (July 5).

This pardon means he could be released nine months from now.

According to his daughter, Bouhafs’ health has deteriorated significantly since his arrest, exacerbating an existing condition—he suffers from inflammatory rheumatism, which requires a diet that is impossible to ensure in prison.

He reportedly also suffers aggression from his fellow prisoners because of his Christian faith, about which he is open.

» Read full story. Thanks for praying.

» Please also continue to lift up Jeff Woodke, a missionary abducted in Niger last October whose wife pleads with abductors to contact her, and for Andrew Brunson, a believer imprisoned in Turkey since October. According to a mutual friend, “Andrew is in a cell built for eight, but occupied by 20 extremist Muslims who are harassing him as a ‘dirty Christian.’ Pray for love, forgiveness, comfort, his family, and a quick release.”

UKRAINE: 1,759 People Want to Know More about Jesus

Source: Jews for Jesus, June 19, 2017

You don’t see much about the war in Ukraine in the news, but the crisis that began in 2013 and erupted into violence in Kiev in 2014 continues to this day.

Uncertainty and violence in the world sometimes prompt people to question their inner conflicts and wonder why there is no peace—not only in the world of politics but [also] in their own relationships. Maybe that is why our team in Kiev found so much openness to the gospel during our recent outreach there.

“Vlad” told our campaigner Ella how, two years ago, he was fleeing the war in eastern Ukraine. As he and two friends were driving away from Lugansk, a bomb fell on their car and his friends were instantly killed. But Vlad awoke from a coma in the hospital. Describing his experience to Ella he said, “I was outside my body when I heard a voice saying, ‘Go back.’ And then I woke up. I did not know whose voice it was. I never thought Jesus was anything but a myth. Can you explain why I returned?”

Ella answered, “God gave you a second chance.”

“Then what should I do next?” he asked. Ella explained the gospel to Vlad and he prayed with her, asking God for forgiveness and a new life based on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Then he gave Ella his contact information so our Kiev team can keep in touch and help him grow in his new faith.

Vlad was one of nine Jewish people who prayed to be reconciled to God through Jesus during our campaign. Thirty-nine Gentiles prayed likewise! Not only that, but another 617 Jewish people and 1,142 Gentiles [also] gave our Kiev team their contact info to hear more about Jesus. Please pray that God will reveal his truth to them, so that they can know and love the Prince of Peace.

» Read full story.