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.

PAKISTAN: Building Bridges to Reach Muslims through Music

Source: Lausanne Global Analysis, July 2017

Because of constitutional restrictions and Islamic influence, traditional methods of mission in Pakistan have often made little impact. However, media and art are emerging as vehicles for evangelization. Given the low literacy rate in Pakistan (ranking 160 out of 198 countries), indigenous art is a powerful tool for sharing the gospel with Muslims. Pakistan has a colorful range of poetic-musical expressions with diverse musical forms. Indeed the book of Psalms (Zabor) was translated into Punjabi lyrical poetry in the late nineteenth century and a Muslim convert and a Hindu musician were hired to compose tunes.

One of the major reasons for the lack of success of Western missions in the Muslim world is the misunderstanding of Muslim music culture, as all branches of Islam have their own musical traditions. Muslim music culture also features in socio-political spheres of life:

  • Saudi women are demanding their equal rights through music video.
  • The Pakistan Army released a music video to pay tribute to the victims of Peshawar school attack by Taliban in December 2014.
  • The Taliban themselves endorse songs that legitimate their ideology and use poetry and songs to recruit new jihadis.

» Read the rest of the article.

» Learn the story of the Punjabi Psalms (International Bulletin of Missionary Research). For another story from Pakistan, see Preaching in a Mosque… from the Bible (FEBC).

CENTRAL ASIA: Sharing Worship Songs

Source: OM International, May 8, 2017

About two years ago, “Asim” created a small worship app to enable his church to have access to Turkish worship songs. At the time he didn’t imagine that it would one day be utilized by Christians throughout West and Central Asia. With 27 languages available already and more on the way, the scope of this app continues to grow.

Throughout Central Asia large churches are uncommon. Believers instead gather in small groups in people’s houses or small congregations in shared locations. These groups are pursuing and loving Christ together and growing in the knowledge of God. However, with a smaller pool there is not always someone with the time and passion to perform the role of a music pastor. The churches are often unaware of each other, so if one congregation has a couple of original or translated songs, the others have very few means of accessing them.

[Workers in Central Asia] are gathering Russian, Kazakh, Uzbek, and Uighur praise and worship songs. The files are then loaded including lyrics, chords, MP3 files—even the ability to project from a computer. The team includes links between the songs in different languages so that they can be shared between community groups as well as churches.

The app has been a huge hit. One house church leader stated, “I love the worship app you have been working on. I am using it all the time for our small meetings.”

» Read full story.

LEBANON: Fire Destroys Homes in Refugee Camps

Source: Missions Network News, July 6, 2017

On [Sunday, July 2], a fire broke out in the largest Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. It was followed by another fire on Tuesday [July 4] in a separate camp. Both fires took place in the Bekaa valley, and both claimed the lives of at least one person.

Preliminary investigations suggest the first fire began electrically. The fire spread quickly, too, due to the materials used in the camp to construct tents—materials like cardboard and tarps. To make matters worse, propane tanks used to fuel stoves stood in the way of the fire.

The cause of the fire actually proves just how desperate these refugee families are. The way [Heart for Lebanon spokesman Tom] Atema sees it, there are three outcomes in the camps for people in this situation.

One, he says, is that organizations [could] step up and fill the gap in “humanitarian aid, Christ’s love, conversations, delivering what they need to sustain life, and bring them into a relationship with Jesus Christ for eternal life.”

But if organizations and ministries don’t attempt to fill that gap, someone else will. This is the second outcome: “Radical groups fill that gap—and they will, and they are filling that gap with hatred and hiring kids as early as eight years of age to march for pay against the West.”

And finally, if neither of the previous outcomes have come true yet, they will steal what they need to survive. This final outcome seems to have contributed to the fire.

“Too many people were stealing electricity off the pole, and it caught fire, went down, and lit a tent on fire,” Atema explains.

» Read full story, which also tells the story of a family who lost their six-year-old daughter in one of these fires.

» See also 10 Principles for Serving Refugees (International Mission Board).

Reasons to Celebrate | World News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_large

Vietnam

 

Click on the image above for a new prayer video for Vietnam from Prayercast; related story below.

In this issue: Reasons to celebrate

  1. MIDDLE EAST: An Unscheduled Appointment
  2. IRAQ: First-ever Sorani Kurdish Bible Published
  3. VIETNAM: God Is on the Move
  4. BURMA: Baptist Pastor Jailed for Spying Falls Ill
  5. CENTRAL ASIA: Believers Standing Firm

Greetings,

As I wrap up this batch of news I can hear distant fireworks as tomorrow is my nation’s birthday. But actually, because I live 20 miles from Canada and get their radio stations, I know that our northern neighbor just turned 150 years old. That is a big deal! Someone had a great idea to celebrate with 150 murals made across the nation. They are truly beautiful. I hope to visit Toronto this month. Maybe I can see one of these murals up close.

Two short videos challenged me on this eve of US Independence Day: Russell Moore on Whether America Is a Christian Nation (The Gospel Coalition) and Do American Christians Love Muslims? (Jihad of Love).

Some of our long-time readers may remember we shared this great flash mob celebration of Resurrection Sunday in Budapest, Hungary in 2011. As the song says, “Freedom was paid for on Calvary.” Enjoy!

Pat