Baptism on the beach | Hindus only

In this edition:

  1. Pakistan: Former Terrorism Hub Being Transformed by the Gospel
  2. Philippines: Gospel Interest Rises Following Global Pandemic
  3. Muslim World: Baptized on a Beach Vacation
  4. India: “Hindus Only,” Says Village in Andhra Pradesh
  5. Vietnam: Thousands Come to Christ in Two-Day Evangelistic Event

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Pakistan: Former Terrorism Hub Being Transformed by the Gospel

Source: Mission Network News, March 7, 2023

The city of Abbottabad, Pakistan has gone from a breeding ground for terrorism to fertile ground for the gospel.

Notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden hid in his Abbottabad compound until U.S. Navy Seals killed him in 2011. A year ago, Mission Cry started handing out Bibles in the area near bin Laden’s old compound.

Since then, people have accepted Christ and now they’re being discipled with Mission Cry’s G300 program. Through military language [memorizing general orders and a code of conduct], G300 disciples learn to pursue Christ and live by God’s Word. The program has been translated into several languages including Farsi and Urdu, major languages in Pakistan. Whole families are being reached with the gospel, including one unlikely family tree.

“Osama bin Laden had four main wives,” says Woolford. “We have had intel that… one of those wives’ grandsons received the Word of God.”

Read the full story. Surprised to hear about a mission effort modeled on a military one? Looks like the ministry was founded by a former U.S. Marine.

Philippines: Gospel Interest Rises Following Global Pandemic

Source: Christian Aid Mission, March 9, 2023

The COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated a shift in ministry in the Philippines, quickening kingdom growth. Native Christian workers in the island country are taking a more holistic approach than they did five years ago, making gospel outreach even more effective, a ministry leader said. The coronavirus outbreak in 2020 accelerated the new emphasis as workers were compelled to meet more physical needs.

Those coming to Christ saw that the church was interested not only in sharing the gospel but also cared for them and their needs, he said. The COVID-19 crisis brought holistic ministry to the forefront and intensified response.

Ministering to the whole person has also meant helping them escape the snare of poverty [and] transform entire communities, the leader said.

The full story includes lots of examples. Have you seen or heard of the same thing happening in other places?

Muslim World: Baptized on a Beach Vacation

Source: Frontiers, March 13, 2023

Murat’s overbearing parents never let him out of their sight. But he wouldn’t let that stop him from being baptized.

Murat glanced behind him as he hurried down the street of the unfamiliar seaside village.

It felt strange to walk alone, especially in a place he’d never been. Although he was an adult according to both Islam and his country, his parents still treated him like a child, refusing to let him leave the house unaccompanied. They were finally discussing the idea of letting him get a driver’s license so he could run errands, but Murat wasn’t very hopeful.

He wondered if they suspected that he had decided to follow Jesus. If they tracked his internet use, they might have been able to tell that he’d done research about Jesus since his early teens and had struck up a friendship over video chat with Stanley, a Frontiers field worker who lived in his city.

He’d been talking with Stanley for two years, studying the Injil and getting answers to his questions, but the two friends had never been able to meet. Every time he tried to leave his house, one of his parents insisted on going with him.

He’d never even managed to make it to a meeting of believers that Stanley had invited him to.

But today that would change. Distracted by the details of their vacation and outings with his younger siblings, Murat’s parents had left him alone at their hotel. It was Sunday morning, and he had at least a few hours to visit a church he’d noticed as they drove through the city.

When he reached the small building, dwarfed by the mosques in the area, Murat stopped and hesitated. A few families walked past him through the door. A young man around his age smiled over his shoulder before disappearing inside.

Taking a deep breath, Murat climbed the steps and entered too.

Read the full story.

India: “Hindus Only,” Says Village in Andhra Pradesh

Source: Religion News Service, February 15, 2023

A decade ago the residents of Kesalingayapalli, a village in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, succeeded in building a temple to the Hindu god Ram, modeling their home as a place “rooted in Indian culture and tradition.”

Three years later, during the festival commemorating Ram’s birth, Bandi Venkatramana, a local farmer, erected an urgent red-and-white sign, known here as a saffron board, at the entrance to the quiet village.

It read: “In this village, everyone is a Hindu, hence people of other religions can’t propagate their faith here. If someone violates this warning, stern action will be taken against them. If you convert to a different religion, it’s akin to changing your mother.”

“If we see anyone carrying or distributing the Bible or Qur’an we first give them a couple of warnings,” said Sai Charan, a student living there. “If they don’t heed our warnings, we just beat them up.”

Read Hindus Only: How Religious Nationalism Has Spread Through India’s Villages for insights into the fears and concerns of these villagers.

Stories about inter-religious conflict seem everywhere these days. Read about ongoing pressure on Israel’s migrant churches (Middle East Concern). On the other hand, see Abrahamic Family House Serves as a Symbol of Opportunity in the UAE (INcontext Ministries).

Vietnam: Thousands Come to Christ Through Two-Day Evangelistic Event

Source: A3 (formerly Asian Access), March 9, 2023

“Hello Brother Joe, thank you for your prayer for our evangelistic event. For the two nights (March 4th and 5th), about 42,000 people came. More than 4,500 people opened their hearts to accept Jesus Christ. Praise God!” [Vietnamese pastor Loc Lam wrote to A3’s Joseph Handley]

Pastor Loc, our [A3] national director who also is the Vice General Secretary of The Vietnam Evangelical Alliance helped the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association coordinate this festival and translate the messages of Rev. Franklin Graham.

For years A3 has partnered with BGEA through Samaritans Purse in Japan and Nepal and through festivals like this one. It’s a privilege to be part of seeing so many come to Christ.

See the full story with pictures and pray for the new believers and those following up with them (a critical piece).

You may also be encouraged by watching a short video about this campaign (BGEA).