Helping Kids Help Kids at School

America is going back to school. Little munchkins are buying notebooks, boarding busses, and beginning a new year of education, fun, and tribalism. Cliques are forming and re-forming in the primordial ooze of public schools. Some kids are wooed, others cautiously invited in and too many are overlooked, marginalized, and excluded.

You went to school, right? Were you the same color as most of your classmates? One of my friends, a tall, fair, redhead, arrived for the first day of ninth grade in her new school to find a classroom otherwise entirely filled with students of Pakistani descent. Her teacher arrived, noticed her, and said, “You must be the new girl!” She replied, “How’d you guess?” It’s a challenge to be different.

Thousands of variables affect group formation and insider/outsider status in our kids’ schools. As followers of Jesus, maybe we should be concerned about them all. We should definitely take pains to keep kids from being mistreated because they happen to be Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim. In fact, maybe we should encourage our kids to extend a hand to such kids.

What can your little Jesus kids do about this? In ascending order of social riskiness, they could…

  1. Keep their cute little mouths shut! Simply don’t join in when kids are being made fun of for the color of their skin or the religious situation they were born into. (They’ll do what they’ve seen at home!)
  2. Sit by the kids no one wants to sit by. Talk to them. (“I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”)
  3. Invite those kids to into their group. “Sit with us.” “Be on my team.” “Do you have a group for the project yet? Join ours.” (As a bonus, overlooked smart kids will help your kids’ grades!)
  4. Defend them before the “popular” kids. (This is gonna leave a mark!)
  5. Invite them to dinner at your house! (Stock up on halal snacks!)

Are there Muslim students at your school? Download this one-page primer for your kids. Take a quick look before you give it to them because you may want to yell at me, “Dude, what are you? 100 years old?” If you want to amend it for others to make it better, let me know. Or simply adapt it for your kids; you do know how to cut and paste.

If, during the first couple days of school, you’ll simply greet the mom in the burka or say hey to the dad with the odd name, your kids may get the picture and behave the same way. Unless they are thirteen, in which case they will just do the opposite of what you say and do!

» Other thoughts about this topic? Comment on our website or Facebook page or email Shane.

Subversive Mobilization: Baby Steps

A guy came up to me after church on Sunday to mention a talk he’d heard recently that helped him think about Muslims in a significantly new way. He said he felt an openness to engage with them he’d not known before. Furthermore, he was a sharp professional and north of 60 years old.

This encouraged me that mobilization has value and that by God’s grace and providence, Christians of all ages can be open to learning new things and taking new steps.

So I have this question for you: What are some of the baby steps believers might need to take to begin to connect with unreached peoples? Can you give 90 seconds to the cause by clicking below and sharing a “baby step” that comes to mind?

» Access and add to the list. Thanks for lending your wisdom.

(If you’re thinking, “Don’t call them ‘baby steps’ because that is super patronizing,” I’m with you! I just haven’t settled on the right name yet.)

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.