CHINA: Christian Executives Who Pray

Source: OMF Global Chinese Ministries Newsletter, March 2016

It is amazing how many senior business people in China are committed Christians. In a BBC News report, a Christian businessman in China shared how his faith in Jesus Christ has had a dramatic impact on his company. Wang Ruoxiong became a Christian seven years ago. He said that Jesus is his company’s ultimate boss. He added that putting biblical principles into practice in the workplace has brought success to the company. He underlines the importance of good relationships, highlighting the way that staff members are treated and the way the company relates to its suppliers. He says positive relationships make the company distinct and create a commercial advantage.

“[Jesus] controls everything. I am merely a housekeeper for Jesus, assisting him in taking care of the company,” says Ruoxiong. “When the senior managers at the top are willing to use the values in their own work and life, these values are passed down. Eventually they become the shared values of the ordinary employees of the entire company.”

Bosses at the Chinese real estate giant Tiantai Group told BBC News last July that they pray in the boardroom before making important decisions. Out of eight senior managers at Tiantai, six are Christians. Founder and chairman Wang Ruoxiong says that the company relies on the Bible for direction when difficult decisions arise.

» Read full story and the BBC article, Firm Faith: The Company Bosses Who Pray.

SYRIA: Bible Distribution Continues Despite Conflict

Source: United Bible Society, February 19, 2016

Nearly five years into the conflict in Syria, which has killed or displaced half the population, staff members of the Bible Society there are continuing their ministry to provide Scriptures for all who need them.

“The thirst for Scriptures among Christians here has only increased with all the unrest,” notes the Society’s director, who, along with other staff members, has stayed on despite the dangers. “The past five years have been very traumatic for Syrians in general and for Syrian Christians in particular. Every family has a sad story. With this loss of hope, people are turning to God’s Word for comfort and encouragement.”

Amidst this immense trauma and upheaval, the team has received far more requests for Scriptures than ever before. In 2010, the year before the conflict began, the Bible Society distributed just under 15,000 Scriptures. By 2014, the demand had increased tenfold, and nearly 159,000 Scriptures were distributed across Syria that year.

[Visitors to the Aleppo bookshop include] a steady flow of young people who are being offered free Scriptures through a joint project between the Bible Society and local churches.

» Read full story.

MONGOLIA: The First Yurt of the Nazarene

Source: GodReports, March 11, 2016

The temperatures in parts of Mongolia are below freezing from November to March, and -40 is common. (-40 degrees happens to be the point where the temperature is the same for both Fahrenheit and Celsius.) Many of the people still live in heavily insulated “yurts,” locally known as “gers” … round structures covered with tarps and animal skins with thick carpets inside and an oil or wood stove as the heat source.

Nazarene missionaries Sunny and Lisa Um moved to Darkhan, Mongolia, in 2012. In 2014, they obtained a long-term lease on property in a poor community outside of Darkhan. Sunny and Lisa observed that many people in that community were sick since their water sources were shallow wells or dirty streams.

In the dry, cold grasslands of Mongolia, water is a precious commodity. So one of their first projects was to drill a deep well on the property that would help provide water for the community. During the week, they charge a minimal fee for the water to help maintain the equipment. But on Sunday, the water is free to everyone! What a beautiful expression of the gospel message. “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink’” (John 7:37).

» Read full story from GodReports, or go right to the article in Engage, the global missions magazine of the Church of the Nazarene.

Coffee for Your Soul: Five Reasons You Can Have Hope for the World

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Coffee for Your Soul: Five Reasons You Can Have Hope for the World

By Shane Bennett

Ahh, coffee. The miracle bean. The juice of joy. The warm nectar of paradise! Unlike some people, I don’t need coffee, I simply enjoy it. Boy, do I. Opening a new bag of beans, the quick and effective work of the grinder, the aroma bloom when the hot water splashes onto the fresh grounds, and that first sip from a favorite mug. If you don’t drink coffee, this may all sound excessive and weird. Can I just say, “It’s never too late to start!”

If you do start, buy your beans from someone like my friend Steve whose new roastery is changing the lives of farmers all over the coffee-growing world.

What coffee does for me, though, is just a shadow of the effect hope has on my soul. Hope invigorates, inspires, and energizes. And, boy, do I need hope. Don’t you? Great kingdom work awaits us. Without hope, how will we engage it? Plus, we go to church with many who, though maybe looking, can’t seem to find reason to believe God is still at work in the world. We need to let them know that reason for hope abounds.

Here goes. Drink deeply, friends.

1. God’s purposes are certain.

If we believe the Bible and if we understand it correctly, we have reason for great hope. Those are two big “ifs.” I usually believe the Bible, mostly. But this is not without struggle. And understand it correctly? My confidence is less here. Even so, just looking at the bookends, which seem clear and plain, I am buoyed with hope.

The story opens with God telling Abraham and Sarah that it’s their lucky day: “You get land, kids, blessing, a great name, and the unfathomable honor of working with me to accomplish my purposes—to press the blessing of connection with Almighty God into every family on the planet.” At the other end of the bookshelf, John sees this stunning snippet of the consummation of all things: “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”

John sees a picture of the ultimate fulfillment of the purposes God shared with Abraham: the redeemed from every family offering thanks and glory to God their redeemer. God has done it. That’s reason for hope!

2. Many things are better than they used to be.

Maybe you’ve heard something like this recently, “It is obvious to anyone with half a brain that the world is getting worse and worse. Evil is rising all around us and the Christian Church is losing ground. I can’t believe how bad things are getting.”

If you dare open your eyes and take your fingers out of your ears, it might seem like that’s an accurate picture of things. Basically, “The world’s going to hell in a hand basket.” If, however, we look a little deeper, we’ll find broad-scale amazingness! Let me highlight three things and point you to a more thorough discussion.

War and violence are both declining.

Of course bad things happen and may presently be happening to you, but according to J.D. King of the World Revival Network, “Archeologists and anthropologists have surmised that over 15% of society died violently in previous centuries. More recently this number has dropped down to 3%. In the 21st century, less than 1% have died a violent or war-related death.”

Abortion is still way too frequent, but the rate in the U.S. has declined almost every year since peaking in 1985.

Poverty is being beaten.

Max Roser says, “With the onset of industrialization world, poverty started its decline, and slowly but steadily a larger share of the world population was lifted out of poverty. And since 1980 world poverty declined from 50% to 21%—at the fastest rate in history.”

Looking forward, Jon Berkley asserts, “If developing countries maintain the impressive growth they have managed since 2000… [they] would cut extreme poverty from 16% of their populations now to 3% by 2030. That would reduce the absolute numbers by 1 billion. If growth is a little faster and income more equal, extreme poverty could fall to just 1.5%” (See J.D. King’s stunning article for thorough documentation on these statistics.)

Life expectancy grows.

Life expectancy in the U.S. has doubled over the past 200 years! Doubled! At the same time, infant mortality has gone down from 25% in the Industrialized West to now less than 4% globally!

Check out Dr. Brad Wright’s book, “Upside” for more “surprising good news about the state of our world.”

3. Jesus is bringing fresh hope to new peoples.

On the one hand, many groups (my super-cool tribe Frontiers and Missions Catalyst publisher Pioneers among them) are increasingly focusing on peoples among whom, as far as we can tell, nothing is happening for the gospel. On the other hand, God is also, through the current global refugee crisis, bringing people from unengaged areas right into access with the good news. It all looks very much like an illustration for Paul’s sermon in Athens! Many are reaching out and finding life!

4. The harvest force is growing.

Even as the gospel goes to new places, it is going in the hands and hearts of new ambassadors: Chinese believers taking the good news back to Jerusalem, Latin believers serving Muslims in North Africa, Nigerian friends bringing gifts from Africa to Europe—and the diminutive woman from China who came up to me after my sermon at a church near Pittsburgh, pointed her finger at me and said, “I’m a missionary to America from Hong Kong. God sent me here because you people are too materialistic!” Mea culpa; thank you, God.

Can I invite you to pray into this reason for hope? Jesus told us in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Join me and a growing number of believers in setting a repeating alarm on your phone for 10:02am. When it goes off, pause for a few seconds to obey Jesus and pray, “Father, send laborers into your bountiful harvest.”

5. God continues to use dopes like me.

Never ceases to amaze me. God took this beautiful creation and entrusted it to a couple who traded it away for a piece of fruit. Then he turns around and entrusts an apparently pretty big part of the rehab project to people like you and me. Sometimes I’m tempted to say, “You’d think he’d learn.”

But God is God. He has said he will bless all families and he has shown us the result of accomplishing that. In between, he whispers to you and me, “You are part of an epic story. I know you’re a mess, but I’ve got your back. If you want to, not only can you enjoy great hope, but you can join me in extending it to the rest of the planet.”

What a great God. What a great hope. What a wonderful time to be alive.

Facing a Task Unfinished [Official Lyric Video]

By Keith and Kristyn Getty

When you have five minutes and need a jolt of hope, grab some coffee and watch this amazing song.

TaskUnfinished lyric video

World News Briefs

 

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In This Issue:

  1. BURMA: Week of Prayer March 7-13
  2. NIGERIA: Churches Unite for First Time to Address Violence in North
  3. INDIA: More than 500 Rescued from Slavery
  4. ISRAEL/PALESTINE: Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews Issue Joint Statement
  5. MEDITERRANEAN: Migrants Sold Fake Life Jackets

Greetings!

This past week’s major news stories unsettled me. I felt as if the world was changing too fast to make sense of it. Not until I sleuthed for news we could use for Missions Catalyst did I find relief. I found stories about the things that matter most and that speak of the good news of the Gospel and its advance.

Consider the story of Shahid, a Libyan man who came to Christ and now reports baptizing Muslim-background believers on the same shores where ISIS beheaded 21 Coptic Christians (Light the Way), or the story of a skateboarding disciple-maker in one of Asia’s urban centers who is seeing lives changed (Pioneers). I’m also encouraged by reports of those reaching out in love to the world’s refugees.

If your head is spinning by what you are hearing, take heart. Heaven’s headlines are always GOOD News.

In Him,
Pat

 

BURMA: Week of Prayer March 7-13

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

This March, we’re dedicating the whole week of 7-13 March to praying for Burma. In November 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National league for Democracy (NLD) party was elected to power, ending over a decade of oppressive military rule.

We’re excited about this important step for Burma, but this is just the start of a long road. Aung San Suu Kyi herself said in a recent interview that “Prejudice is not removed easily and hatred is not going to be removed easily.”

March 7-13, CSW will be holding an online week of prayer. You can join us by signing up for daily prayer emails, so you too can pray for the future of Burma at this critical time.

» Learn more or sign up to participate.

» Editor’s note: The government of Thailand has decided to send back to Burma the nearly 100,000 refugees, mostly persecuted minorities, who live in camps along the Thai-Burma border. Read a report from Vision Beyond Borders about their plans to relocate vulnerable refugee children during these dangerous days. And, for an interesting glimpse of Burma’s history, see Gospel-singing Nurses Key to General’s 140-mile Retreat from Burma.

NIGERIA: Churches Unite for First Time to Address Violence in North

Source: World Watch Monitor, February 23, 2016

The world’s deadliest terrorist group is not in the Middle East. It’s in Nigeria, where the Islamist insurgency Boko Haram and other forces killed more than 4,000 Christians in 2015.

That tally was a 62 percent increase from the previous year, according to Open Doors, a global charity that supports Christians in places where their faith exposes them to government, social, or sectarian hostility.

In response, Nigeria’s largest confederation of Christian churches is, for the first time, jointly endorsing a commitment to revive the Church in the country’s north, before it collapses from a decade of violence that has killed thousands of Christians and driven away more than 1 million.

At the same time, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has jointly published with Open Doors a detailed study of the violence and its impact.

CAN is comprised of councils representing Protestant denominations, indigenous Evangelical churches, Pentecostal churches, and the Catholic Church. Together they encompass about half of Nigeria’s 173 million people.

» See full story with map and pictures.

INDIA: More than 500 Rescued from Slavery

Source: International Justice Mission, March 3, 2016

In an ongoing rescue operation, Indian police and IJM staff have rescued 564 children, women and men from forced labor slavery at a massive brick kiln.

This is IJM’s largest anti-slavery operation ever—and it took place in the exact same, sprawling factory where [IJM] helped rescue more than 500 people in 2011.

The kiln owner had evaded arrest in that first operation, but today his impunity has ended. Police arrested him and five other accomplices from an organized trafficking network. They are currently in custody and will face charges under India’s anti-trafficking laws and Bonded Labour Act.

Over the next few days, Indian officials and IJM staff will stay with the families and make sure they have nourishing meals and medical care. IJM field workers will help the families return to their home villages by train on Friday.

For the next two years, IJM staff will meet with the families regularly and connect them to long-term rehabilitation programs and opportunities so they can rebuild lives in freedom.

IJM will support local police as they build the legal case against the kiln owner and the trafficking ring that helped him grow his business—hopefully ending this systematic abuse of the poor for good.

» See full story with pictures and read more coverage of this dramatic rescue operation in The Times of India, The Hindu and The New Indian Express.

ISRAEL/PALESTINE: Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews Issue Joint Statement

Source: Lausanne News, February 25, 2016

Thirty Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews met in Larnaca, Cyprus, January 25-28, 2016 for four days of prayer, fellowship, and study. They issued a statement affirming their unity as believers in Jesus and calling on their communities to join them in reconciliation initiatives.

The Lausanne Initiative for Reconciliation in Israel/Palestine (LIRIP) hosted the conference. Its vision is “to promote reconciliation within the body of Christ and our wider communities in Israel and Palestine by creating a network that encourages, under the auspices of the Lausanne Movement, models of gospel-based, Christ-centered reconciliation that will have prophetic impact in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The Larnaca Statement highlights the issues and challenges affecting reconciliation, noting:

“In times of tension and violent conflict, relationships suffer, while suspicion, accusation, and mutual rejection thrive. At such times it is even more essential that we who affirm our unity in the Messiah must uphold ethical standards of life that are worthy of our calling, in all our attitudes, words, and deeds.”

It recognizes that “we hold very different theological positions regarding the land, and also very different perspectives on the causes of the social, political, and economic realities that impact the daily life of all who inhabit the land.”

Nevertheless, it calls for “a generous theological stance, which makes room for and respects the conscientious convictions of others that they sincerely derive from their reading of Scripture” and for “every effort to maintain our fellowship with each other as a witness to the unity of the body of the Messiah and to the boundless love of God for all people.”

» Read full press release.

MEDITERRANEAN: Migrants Sold Fake Life Jackets

Source: ASSIST News, January 10, 2016

“It is raining like crazy in Lesvos tonight and people who got soaking wet arriving on boats today have not been able to dry up at all,” [writes refugee advocate Zrinka Bralo]. “I met a great crew from Zagreb on the beach today. They are working with unaccompanied minors in Moria camp and came out to help on the beach. It was truly humbling to see the efforts to of one American lifeguard from the Dutch Boat Refugee Foundation to save a life of a man who was so hypothermic that he slipped away and stopped shaking.”

Zrinka went on to say, “I am still sticking with my policy of not taking photos of people in distress, especially children. I am also finding it increasingly difficult to restrain myself when I see other people hugging children off the boat and pulling out big lens cameras and sticking it into the terrified children’s faces. But that is another story. I leave you tonight with my rage, my guilt, and a few photos of the fake life jackets I struggled to pull off tiny children this morning.”

Recently police have raided and arrested people working in factories in Turkey making these “fake life jackets” to sell to the people. The Guardian reports that police allegedly seized 1,263 lifejackets filled with non-buoyant materials from an illegal workshop in Izmir that employed two Syrian children, according to Agence France-Presse and Dogan news agencies.

The raid came in the same week that the bodies of more than 30 people washed up on Turkish beaches, having drowned in their attempt to reach Greece. Some of the dead were pictured wearing lifejackets, leading to suspicions that they may have been fake.

» See full story with pictures and read Turkish police find factory making fake lifejackets in Izmir.

» Other stories related to the refugee crisis report that nine Christian leaders in Australia were arrested for protesting deportation of refugees (Christian Post / Christian Headlines) and that refugees were tear-gassed in France (Foreign Policy) and Macedonia (Al Jazeera). See also A Street View of Immigration (SAT-7 video).