Notable People, Heavenly Headlines, & the State of the Great Commission

  1. From the Editor: Notable People
  2. China: One Chinese City Has More Christians Than Any Other and How It Happened Might Surprise You
  3. Pakistan: Witch Doctor Summons Powerful Demons, Then Turns to Christ
  4. World: The State of the Great Commission
  5. Middle East: Answers From Heaven for an Anxious New Mother

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From the Editor: Notable People


As you may have guessed, I love a good story. Recently, I’ve come across some old stories that are new to me. One came to me by way of an antique Frecnch secretary desk I wanted to sell. It had a sticker with the name Sherman G. Pitt, whom I discovered was a local pastor with a son, Malcolm, who served as a missionary in India and left an impressive legacy.

Another story I discovered is that of Asa Jennings, a Methodist minister from upstate New York who was able to save a quarter of a million Christians from perishing during the Armenian genocide. Read A Failed Minister Who Saved 250,000 Christians (Boston University) or watch the 15-minute video, Miracle in Izmir: The Asa K. Jennings Story (Videoparables).

For a more recent story of sacrifice, read about Dutch Christian Father Frans van der Lugt who was unwilling to leave the people of Syria when his city was under siege. The story is told in Martyr of Love: Father Frans’ Sacrifice in War-Torn Syria (International Christian Concern).

And speaking of notable people, Flowing Data featured an interactive timeline of notable people throughout history and a map with the most notable person from locations around the world. I had to see who would qualify as “notable.” I might have made a different list, with Heaven’s headlines in mind. Who would you include?

Pat Noble

China: One Chinese City Has More Christians Than Any Other and How It Happened Might Surprise You

Source: Back to Jerusalem, March 25, 2024

With the continuing growth of Christianity in China, it seems that it will soon be home to the world’s largest Christian population, but of all the major cities in China, one stands out for having more believers than any other—Wenzhou.

Wenzhou has so many Christians that it is often called “The Jerusalem of China.” Some estimate as many as 15% of the population is Christian, but our studies show that the number is even higher. The number of Christians in Wenzhou is almost six times higher than the national average, and those are just the Christians that are known. There are many Christians in the underground house church movement that are not known and are not included in the official numbers.

It all goes back to a man by the name of George Stott in the 1800s who God called to preach the gospel in China. When George lost his leg in a farming accident at the age of 19, it seemed that his life dreams were over, until he met with famed China Inland Mission’s Hudson Taylor.

For most mission societies of the era, it was a preposterous idea to consider an amputee for service on the mission field, but Hudson Taylor was impressed. When Taylor asked George why he should even consider going to China with only one leg, Stott quickly answered, “I do not see those with two legs going, so I must.”

The full article includes a link to purchase an inexpensive biography of George Stott.

For another BTJ reflection on missionary decisions and their consequences, read One of the Biggest Missionary Blunders in History?

Pakistan: Witch Doctor Summons Powerful Demons, Then Turns to Christ

Source: Mission Network News, March 27, 2024

When Unknown Nations gospel workers entered a slum in Pakistan, a prominent witch doctor thought he was ready for them. The witch doctor summoned two powerful demons to harm the Christians, but things didn’t go as he expected. He later shared with the Christians, “I saw them burn up.” The man asked them what they had done to make this happen.

“We said, ‘Sir, we didn’t do anything. But the reason that those demons were burned up is because of Jesus and the power of God.’ So, we shared the gospel with him, and this guy gave his life to Christ,” Kelley says.

The man immediately turned away from witchcraft. He has begun to learn God’s Word and be discipled by local Christian leaders.

This [transformation] has angered the people the man was leading.

“He’s absolutely in danger. I mean, these places are very dark. Any place where there’s human sacrificing going on, the disregard for human life is just, it’s unimaginable,” Kelley says.

Read the whole story with prayer points.

See also a story about a former witch who baptized 200 people on a Florida beach this Easter (CBN).

World: The State of the Great Commission

Source: Lausanne Movement, April 16, 2024

The Lausanne Movement, renowned worldwide for its historic congresses and leadership in global mission over the past five decades, will soon introduce its State of the Great Commission report [analyzing] the most crucial gaps and opportunities in fulfilling the Great Commission.

The report was enriched by the insights of more than 150 global mission experts from various corners of the world, with 40% representing the global South, 35% from the global North, and 25% from the global East. Additionally, the investigation tapped into hundreds of sources of information, as well as publishing original research. First published in English, it will soon be accessible in six additional languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French, Korean, Chinese, and Russian.

Report Highlights:

1. The Great Commission in a Digital Age

In today’s digital era, evangelism faces new challenges, as online platforms shape identities and communities, making outreach more complex than mere content provision. To succeed, great commission efforts need to intentionally cross digital borders.

2. The Question of Humanness

This is an unprecedented age of technological development, and what it means to be human is being questioned amidst rapidly changing dynamics of everyday life. These broader culture movements present new alternative paths for hope, salvation, and redemption, effectively altering the plausibility of the gospel.

3. The New Middle Class

Around 2020, the middle-class became the majority of the global population and by 2050, it will increase by 2 billion individuals. This demographic shift will significantly alter global dynamics, requiring necessary adjustments in the efforts of the Great Commission.

4. The Global Aging Population

People aged 60 years and older represent the fastest-growing global population, projected to increase from 1 billion to 2.1 billion by 2050. Global ageing has not been a primary focus for Christian missions in previous decades, a failure that has a significant impact on the extraordinary opportunity to reach and disciple the rapidly growing 60+ cohort.

The report will be released globally on April 23, 2024. You can access the report by visiting

Readers might also be interested in Cru’s Mission Shift podcast, which explores the changing face of global missions (now in its second season).

Middle East: Answers From Heaven for an Anxious New Mother

Source: Frontiers USA, April 15, 2024

I gently laid my daughter in her crib before tiptoeing out of the nursery and into the living room, where I sank onto the sofa beside my husband. We usually went to bed shortly after our daughter, but we had an appointment at a nanny agency in the morning. We needed the time together to pray.

My husband and I had agreed that we needed help so we could continue the ministry and language learning we’d already begun in our new country. But we both worried about finding someone we could trust to care for our daughter.

As we prayed for a solution, I stared at the rug. I was afraid I’d fall asleep if I closed my eyes. “Lord, would you guide us to the right person?”

The next day, my husband and I visited the nanny agency. We were taken into a small room full of women, all lined up to meet us. It was a normal process in this part of the world, but I’d never felt quite so awkward.

I fumbled through introductions, my discomfort rising as I quickly made my way through the line. Eventually, I reached a woman named Jannah.

She smiled. “It means heaven.”

“Really?” My uneasiness melted away, and I began to sense the Lord at work. “My daughter’s name is Celeste. It also means heaven.” When I was pregnant, we were guided to this name, and we hoped it would serve as a lifelong reminder to keep her focus on Christ and her eternal home.

I wondered if the meaning had similar significance for Jannah. “Tell me about yourself.”

At first, she described her experience caring for children. Then, with a gentle smile, she identified herself as a believer. “I’ve been praying for the chance to work for a Christian family.”

I could hardly believe it! Yet, I shouldn’t have been surprised. God always proved himself faithful in the big things and the little.

We were Jannah’s answer to prayer, and she was ours.

Read the whole story.

Did you know? Opportunities to bless missionary families by helping care for or educate their children are abundant. Want to make a difference? Ask if your church’s missionaries or others you know could use a hand, or contact an international school, mission agency, or MissionNext.

The Ultimate Checklist, Mission Anthropology & More

  1. Download: The Ultimate Missions Checklist for Your Church
  2. Book: Anthropology (and More) for Missionaries
  3. Training: Cultural Awareness for Short-Term Teams
  4. Stories: The Yemen Listening Project
  5. Quick Takes: Focus on Easter
  6. Events: Missions Conferences and More in April

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Editor’s Note: Missions Catalyst will be on spring break for the next two weeks. Look for us again April 17.

Download: The Ultimate Missions Checklist for Your Church

Source: The Mission App

Is your church ready to send members who feel they are being led into missions? Do you need help setting up a missions program? What about training your people? Identifying expectations and qualifications? Issues of family, finance, and choosing agency partners?

The Mission App has prepared a 40-page PDF to help you along the way. It’s yours in exchange for your contact info. Looks pretty good to me, though I did not check all the links.

Get your copy.

Not familiar with The Mission App? They help potential missionaries find their fit and take their next step toward serving in missions (one application to connect with 45 partner agencies). Recently they became part of another ministry with a similar goal, MissionNext.

Another free download that recently caught my eye: Around the World in 12 Recipes from Compassion International. The digital cookbook includes stories, prayer points, and more.

Book: Anthropology (and More) for Missionaries

Source: Baker Academic

Crossing Cultures With the Gospel: Anthropological Wisdom for Effective Christian Witness, by Darrell L. Whiteman. Baker Academic, 2024. 288 pages.

The goal of this book is to encourage and empower cross-cultural workers from any region or background to become more effective, serve longer, and thrive in their cross-cultural ministries.

The author, a leading professor and missiologist, draws on decades of training experience to explain the concept of culture, incarnational ministry, common communication problems, culture shock, and how to learn from and engage with engage with people in other cultures despite the cultural baggage we all tend to carry.

I loved this book. Whiteman’s singing my song. He references many seminal works, old and new, and gives the reader plenty of jumping off places for learning more about topics like cross-cultural communication, participant observation, bonding, and becoming bicultural.

Ultimately, just reading a book falls short of what you can learn from practical pre-field training or on-site coaching, but this one could be a great complement to either.

Learn more or buy the book, available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle editions. Well worth the read.

Training: Cultural Awareness for Short-Term Teams

Source: CultureBound

Speaking of crossing cultures, do you have short-term teams going out this summer? Would you like them to be aware of the cultural dynamics where they are going? Most groups sending mission teams do their own training but CultureBound has two options that can help.

CAMP: Cultural Awareness Made Practical

Individual members of your teams register for CAMP and watch the online videos, totaling one hour, on their own time. Each lesson has a video and worksheet with questions and activities for both the preparation stage and when the team is on the field. $30 per person.

CAST: Cultural Awareness for Short-Term Teams

CAST is a two-hour online or in-person training or workshop that can also be scaled to meet the needs of your team. It focuses on four ways that cultures differ from each other which gives the group cultural patterns to look for and a common vocabulary to discuss them. $150 per group.

Learn more about CultureBound.

See also CULTURELink, which is offering a two-day seminar for team leaders coming up April 19-20 in Virginia, and MissionExcellence, which provides regular training on best practices for short-term mission.

You may also want to check out a new resource called MissionLinked. It provides a simple, fun, and secure way to link people together while raising funds for a short-term mission or a special project.