News from Indonesia, Uganda, Israel, Turkey & More

Missions Catalyst News Briefs 03.01.23

  1. Ukraine: Invasion Passes Grim One-Year Milestone
  2. Uganda: Police Rescue 40 Christian Children from Kidnapping Scam
  3. Israel: Opposition to Messianic Ministry
  4. Turkey: Antakya (Antioch) Church Prepares to Rebuild after Earthquake
  5. Indonesia: Reli Finds Christ at the Flourish Café
  6. USA: Nigerians Find New Home in Indiana

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Ukraine: Invasion Passes Grim One-Year Milestone

Source: Mission Network News, February 24, 2023

It has been one year now since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, marking a grim milestone for the people of Ukraine.

The war has had a devastating impact on the country’s economy and infrastructure, with more than 13,000 people killed and thousands more injured. Many families have been displaced and their homes and businesses destroyed.

Ukraine is a predominantly Christian country. The Church has played a vital role in providing support to those affected by the conflict, including refugees and those who have lost loved ones.

The full story includes perspective from Slavic Gospel Mission.

See also an informative infographic about the Russia-Ukraine war (INcontext International). In addition to data, it includes quotes from several Ukrainian pastors.

For more on how Ukrainians are responding, read Suffering, Grace and Glory (Jeff Fountain’s Weekly Word).

Download new resources to help you (or your group) pray for Ukraine (Ukraine Christian Ministries).

Uganda: Police Rescue 40 Christian Children from Kidnapping Scam

Source: Morning Star News, February 26, 2023

Police in Uganda have arrested two people in connection with the kidnapping of 40 Christian children lured by a Muslim posing as the leader of a Christian charity offering free education, sources said.

In Arua, in northwest Uganda’s West Nile Sub-Region, initial investigations alleged that 27-year-old Siraji Sabiri, a Muslim, had lured the children to a hotel with promises of school scholarships and was possibly planning to sell them to a rebel militant group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Police rescued 40 children from the hotel on February 2.

A pastor in Arua first learned of the alleged scam from church members who told him a Christian organization was registering children for scholarships for a school in Luwero District, in central Uganda. Sabiri is a resident of Wakiso District, near Luwero.

Read the full story. Another article reports that a pastor invited to participate in a religion debate by mosque leaders in Uganda was attacked after his arguments ostensibly led to 37 Muslims accepting Christ.

See also Uganda Threatens to Close UN Human Rights Office (Human Rights Watch).

Israel: Opposition to Messianic Ministry

Source: Middle East Concern, February 24, 2023

Messianic Jewish believers request prayer after Channel 14 TV, World Israel News (both media with a right-wing audience) and anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim targeted the HaTikva (Hope) Project, claiming the work is a cover for missionary activity.

The humanitarian work of the HaTikva Project includes dental clinics in Jerusalem and Haifa which provide subsidized care to Israelis of all backgrounds who would be otherwise unable to afford treatment. Jerusalem Municipality and local welfare departments refer needy people to the clinics.

The right-wing media found people opposed to the ministry, including the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Arieh King, who is quoted as saying that the cooperation with the municipality was a “disaster” and that he hopes to stop “this damage to our nation.”

The HaTikva Project team has consulted a lawyer regarding the opposition and factually incorrect reporting. They request prayer for wisdom to know how to respond and that the negative publicity will not harm the ministry.

Read the full story. Another MEC article reports a number of attacks against the Armenian Christian community in Jerusalem. Pray for peace.

And, in news from Iran, MEC and other sources report that imprisoned Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, once sentenced to death for apostasy, has been released, as have several other Christian converts.

Turkey: Antakya (Antioch) Church Prepares to Rebuild after Earthquake

Source: The Christian Post, February 26, 2023

Antioch, where believers were first called Christians, is among the cities devastated by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Among the hundreds of buildings that suffered significant damage is a church that was razed to the ground.

“Nothing is left,” Pastor Elmas Akin of Antakya Mesihçiler Kilisesi church in Antakya, the modern form of Antioch and the capital of Hatay Province in southern Turkey, told CBN News. “And this has been our church for 23 years. All those years of love and caring for everyone. Everything is gone completely.”

Despite the devastation, Pastor Elmas says there’s hope. The church building had been rented, and the congregation prayed for God to provide them with their own church building, she said, adding that a year ago, they found a plot of land and started constructing a new church building.

The church is now meeting in the new building though it’s still under construction. “There’s no more Antioch left, but there will be a new Antioch,” Elmas said. “God has already given us the building for it, and there’s no damage to that church.”

Read the full story. As a variety of other sources continue to report, the Christian community in the region is actively involved in providing aid and relief to those most affected.

Read Four Ways Your Church Can Help After the Turkey and Syria Earthquakes (The Better Samaritan blog).

Indonesia: Reli Finds Faith in Christ at the Flourish Café

Source: International Christian Concern, February 14, 2023

Flourish Café in West Java, Indonesia, opened in 2021, motivated by the owner’s Christian faith and desire to reach out to women victims of human trafficking. Every Saturday, the owner held a “discover the Bible and Quran” study at the cafe to prompt discussion about the two books. As a result, some of their employees came to faith in Jesus Christ.

[One of them, Reli, reports] “From week to week, I became more and more interested in studying the Bible because so many words in it touched my heart. I installed the Bible app on my phone to read it throughout the week. I told one of my Christian friends about my interest in the Bible. She told me now, if you pray, pray to Jesus Christ. I prayed to Jesus, and several times in a dream, someone wearing a robe came and said, ‘Do not be afraid. I will help you.’ I believe that Jesus appeared in my dreams.”

“In December 2021, I decided to be baptized because I had complete confidence to follow Jesus. But, until then, my family and husband did not know I believed in Jesus. They are not pleased that I converted and wish me to return to the Muslim faith. I pray that my parents and husband also believe in Jesus.”

Read the full story.

What about finding Christ in a tea house? When the Aroma of Christ Smells Like Oolong describes how Chinese ministries are using tea—bubble tea or the other kind—to reach Asian youth in North America (Christianity Today).

Ukraine: Invasion Passes Grim One-Year Milestone

USA: Nigerians Find New Home in Indiana

Source: Assemblies of God News, February 17, 2023

Although he had pastored and planted Pentecostal churches in Nigeria for a quarter century, Paul Adeymo fled his native land in 2018, narrowly escaping death en route to a prayer meeting when attacked by Fulani herdsman.

Adeymo, his wife, Lola, and their three children—Joseph, Blossom, and Timothy—applied for asylum in the U.S. In part, Paul and Lola sought to move because Joseph, the oldest child at 24, has cognitive challenges. Medical facilities didn’t exist near his Nigerian home to effectively help him.

Despite not knowing anyone in the Hoosier state, the entire family immigrated to Indianapolis in 2018.

“I did research and found this is the best place to live,” Adeymo says. “We didn’t have to break the bank to survive. But I didn’t know how cold it would be. Yet the cold has not killed us.”

The Adeymos initially lived in low-income apartments near an Assemblies of God multi-ethnic congregation of 1,100 weekly attendees in the Indiana capital. Dozens of other Nigerians who live in the complex attend Lakeview Church, and the Adeymos began worshiping there as well.

Adeymo now is in the early stages of pioneering a church in Indianapolis for Africans.

The full story offers Pastor Adeymo’s perspective on violence in Nigeria and insights on ministering to immigrant Africans, as well as briefly describing Lakeview Church’s transformation from a previously all-white congregation to one that better reflects and connects with its now-diverse neighborhood. A good read.

Things continue to be rough for Christians in Nigeria. See 10 Prayers You Can Pray for Nigeria’s Christians (Global Christian Relief).