Grit & Grace, Motives for Mission, Jonathan Edwards, and More

In this edition of Resource Reviews:

  1. New App: Holy Ground for Prayerwalking
  2. Article: Cross-Cultural Immersion—10 Ways to Start Where You Are
  3. Book: Grit to Stay Grace to Go: Staying Well in Cross-Cultural Ministry (and Other Recent Titles)
  4. Events: Conferences, Classes & Retreats in June

Read or share the email edition, or scroll down for more.

New App: Holy Ground for Prayerwalking

Source: 24/7 Prayer and Civil Righteousness

Habakkuk 2:14 says that the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. How about our streets and sidewalks? Use the Holy Ground prayerwalking app to find resources (though most are “coming soon”), see where others have prayed, and track prayerwalks in your own area.

Looks like this started near me, in Portland, Oregon, but even here there are plenty of streets that may not have been prayerwalked. Thought I’d give it a go. What about you? Get a family member or friend and pray for God to be glorified in your neighborhood or town.

Learn more or look for the app from the Apple and Google app stores.

Looking for tools to stimulate prayer for a people group or region on your heart? See Justin Long’s list of prayer guides, recently updated. Many are free downloads. Let him know if you have one to add.

Article: Cross-Cultural Immersion—10 Ways to Start Right Where You Are

Source: Go.Serve.Love

If we wouldn’t seat ourselves onstage at a concert hall without training, is there a reason we wouldn’t need to be trained for other work God has for us (like global work)?

There are lots of lessons around town. The trick is to both train your eyes to see them—and your heart to choose to engage.

Read the article.

Read another thought-provoking article, The Most Strategic Mission Field: Workplace Evangelism and the Great Commission (Lausanne Movement).

Books: Grit & Grace, Motives for Mission, Jonathan Edwards, and more

Sources: Various

Grit to Stay Grace to Go: Staying Well in Cross-Cultural Ministry, by Sue Eenigenburg and Eva Burkholder

Cross-cultural ministry is full of twists and turns. You finally figure out what to do and where to go, raise your support and share your plans with everyone, only to get to the field and find it’s not what you expected, or that the people you were so looking forward to working with are on their way out. Or maybe you’re the one leaving and processing all the implications of that decision.

Whether you stick it out or realize it’s time to let go, Grit to Stay Grace to Go will help you know you aren’t alone.

Each chapter addresses a different dynamic that often comes up, how the authors have seen or experienced it, lies you might fall for and truths you can cling to. Throughout are meaty reflection questions and resources for going deeper—typically 4-6 articles to access online and a book or two for each of the 36 chapters. A series of appendices address topics like soul care, listening, loss and grief, and debriefing.

This is more of a workbook and a reference than the sort of book you read straight through. Team leaders and missionary care providers will find it a helpful resource, and field workers will see themselves on its pages.

Note that both authors have published books for women, but this isn’t just a book for women, Americans, or missionaries from a certain tradition; they’ve made efforts to keep a broader readership in mind.

Learn more or purchase from William Carey Publishing or elsewhere; the oversized paperback is US$17.99 while a digital copy (epub or Kindle) is US$9.99. Bulk discounts are available for ten copies or more.

Missionary Motivations: Challenges from the Early Church, by Matthew Burden

Christianity’s rapid expansion is remarkable. But the earliest Christians had little to say about obeying the Great Commission or concern for the lost. Without dismissing those motivations, the author of this short book takes a close look at the early church’s vision for global missions, notably their focus on filling the earth with worship and holiness (less Matthew 28, more Malachi 1:11).

This thoughtful book explores what drove Roman martyrs and desert fathers as well as the thinking of the saints, monks, kings, and pilgrims who expanded the Church in India, Syria, Central Asia, Europe, and beyond.

Learn more.

Other new books from William Carey Publishing include Facing Fear by Anna Hampton and Portraits of Global Christianity, edited by Gina Zurlo.

Brave Son of Tibet: The Many Lives of Robert B. Ekvall, by David P. Jones

Raised in China by missionary parents, gifted with languages, and able to make friends with anyone, Robert Ekvall of the Christian and Missionary Alliance had advantages that served him well in the two decades he and his family served among Buddhist nomads in northeastern Tibet. The inspiring story is full of adventures, setbacks, and breakthroughs.

After tragedies and opportunities remove him from Asia, he returns as a WWII military attache and intelligence officer with the U.S. Army and later takes up a new life as a university professor. It’s all in this readable and well-researched biography.

Learn more.

Other books by Jones include Only Thibet, Cousins—Peacemakers in the Tibetan Border, and a biography of A.B. Simpson in several languages.

You might also appreciate The Empathy Machine, an article from Ted Esler on why we should read biographies.

Jonathan Edwards on Movements, by Dave Coles

What do we make of revivals, awakenings, and new religious movements? How should we sort out what we hear and see? The author, a proponent of CPM/DMM, takes a look at how influential theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) responded to the revivals and Great Awakening of his day and advised others to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Along the way, Coles asks: what would Edwards say, both positive and negative, to critics of disciple-making movements today? It’s a quick read but a challenging one if you’re not used to the language of early American theologians like Edwards.

Learn more.

Here are a few more new books I’ve heard about but haven’t read.

The Missionary Mama’s Survival Guide: Compassionate Help for the Mothers of Cross-Cultural Workers, by Tori R. Haverkamp could be just what you need. Read an excerpt: Finally, Some Help for Moms of Missionaries (A Life Overseas). If you are familiar with the 2008 book Parents of Missionaries, I’d be interested in how you find this book compares (besides the fact that this one is especially for moms).

Shaanxi: The Cradle of Chinese Civilization, by Paul Hattaway, is the seventh book in the China Chronicles, a province-by-province, decade-by-decade look at Church growth in China. Read an excerpt (Asia Harvest).

The Great Story and the Great Commission: Participating in the Biblical Drama of Mission, by Christopher Wright, was published a few months ago by Baker Academic. Read a review (Lausanne Movement).

Whew! That’s a lot of books. Happy reading.

Events: Conferences, Classes, & Retreats in June

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

June 3-4, World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk (international). Coordinated by the Viva Network.

June 4-30, Equipping for Cross-Cultural Life and Ministry (Union Mills, NC, USA). Followed by a Language Learning Accelerator course on July 2-14. Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.

June 7-8, Mission Agency Consultation (Dallas, TX, USA). Workshop for organizational leaders, provided by Sixteen:Fifteen.

June 9-11, ACMI Virtual Conference (online). Conference for people ministering among international students. From the Association of Christians Ministering among Internationals.

June 12-16, Abide Debriefing (Joplin, MO, USA). Help for moving forward with hope and momentum; from TRAIN International (held eight times a year). An additional debriefing will be held June 19-23.

June 14, Mobilizing Your Senior Church Leadership (online). Webinar for church mission leaders from Sixteen:Fifteen and Missio Nexus.

June 19, Business Strategies for Effective Pioneering (online). Hour-long webinar from Frontiers USA; join live or watch the replay a week later.

June 19-21, Support Raising Bootcamp (Abuja, Nigeria). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

June 20, World Refugee Day (international). Many churches observe this with prayer on the Sunday before or after.

June 21 to July 1, Breathe (Wilderswil, Switzerland). A retreat for mission workers offered annually by Catalyst International. A second retreat will be held September 21-29 in the same location.

June 21-22, Support Raising Bootcamp (Rogers, AR, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

June 26 to July 22, COMPASS (Palmer Lake, CO, USA). Language and culture acquisition provided by Missionary Training International.

June 29, Day of the Christian Martyr (international). An annual event from Voice of the Martyrs.

View the complete calendar, updated regularly. Submissions welcome.

Special Edition: AI and Its Impact on Global Missions

Hi, friends! You’ve got feelings and opinions about ChatGPT and its many cousins, don’t you? When it comes to world missions, AI offers both challenges and opportunities.

As the Chief Innovation Officer for SIL International, Jon Hirst has been following developments in the world of artificial intelligence more than most—and also considering how it may impact us as followers of Jesus.

In the coming months, Jon will also be part of several (mostly virtual) events to help us stay current and think critically about these things; see more info below.

— Marti

Obedience in This AI Moment

By Jon Hirst, Innovation in Mission

During college, I interned in the marketing department of the magazine Christianity Today. Each day that summer, I rode with a friend of mine at the university who was working in the relatively new interactive office of CT. It was in a different building than I worked in and I remember walking over there after work in awe as I watched the beginnings of the Internet take off in the form of AOL chat rooms and simple hyperlinked pages. I was too young to really think through the fact that, as with any new technology, some might be mourning the loss of in-person interaction or the beginnings of 24-7 connectivity.

Today, I feel a similar sense of awe as I sit in demos with our Artificial Intelligence (AI) teams in SIL International (where I serve as the Chief Innovation Officer); but unlike in those early days, I better understand the concern that naturally comes with a technological breakthrough of this magnitude.

The innovations coming out of this round of tech breakthroughs will not only create new opportunities but will also have significant impacts on the work that many of our staff do each day. One recent study expects 80% of employees to have 10% of their work impacted and almost 20% of employees to have at least 50% of their work impacted. AI will also likely affect certain industries and jobs more directly than others; some of which overlap with activities that are core to nonprofit activities. We should expect significant impacts to the way work is done even though our overall vision and mission statements will remain unchanged.

So how can we live out this trust in God in a time of change? Here are four postures to consider:

  • Humility: None of us know where an AI-driven world will take us or what it will look like to be fully human in a time when many of the efforts that have defined us get taken up by machines. We need to submit our will and our ways to God daily and ask Him for patience and grace. As we turn to God for comfort in navigating the unknown, we can recognize that there is both joy and excitement along with fear and loss.
  • Learning Together: God embedded in us a curiosity that breeds empathy and human connection. We are made for learning in community! We want to learn from each other and grow as God’s children. As machines chip away at some of what we have labeled “our identity,” we, who know how God made us, are in the best position to learn how to function in a world transformed. Our task becomes to discover our true selves and what it means to be humans made in God’s image.
  • Grace: This level of transformation will be intrusive and confusing. As we seek to pursue opportunities and safeguard against risks, we will naturally misunderstand each other, step on toes, and struggle to anticipate how our actions will affect others. It is our job to assume the very best from our colleagues and partners as we extend grace. When the changes create disequilibrium and uncertainty, we can choose to respond through discussion, listening, and open-minded engagement.
  • Obedience: God’s Word maps out what it means to be God’s children and followers of Jesus in a time when the new Kingdom is not yet fully seen or honored. The coming years will require hard choices from us as we seek to know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” to the new opportunities that will present themselves. What will it mean to stay faithful to God’s direction?

So as you start each day, expect the unexpected, be ready to show an extra measure of love and kindness, look for the little lessons, and ask God for the strength to be courageous in the face of the unknown. Together we can learn to navigate a dramatically different world, encourage those around us and honor God in our obedience.

Read the full article and related resources.

I’d also encourage you to explore and sign up for Jon’s Innovation in Mission monthly newsletter.

Upcoming Events Related to AI and Ministry

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

May 31, AI and Its Impact on Global Mission (webinar). Join Ted Esler, Jon Hirst, and Mark Tabladillo in this Missio Nexus discussion about ways artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT affect the global Great Commission.

July 11, Thriving as a Publisher and Author in an AI-Assisted World (webinar). This event, provided by Media Associates International, will be geared towards helping Christian authors and publishers around the world think through the impacts of AI. Anyone can come.

September 27-29, Mission Leaders Conference (Orlando, Florida; virtual passes also available). Missio Nexus has conferences like this every year. The 2023 theme is “Shift: Rapid Social Transformation and the Gospel.” It will address many topics, but will certainly include AI.

October 24-26, DigitalMediaCon 4.0 (virtual event). This three-day conference for Christian communicators, held by the Evangelical Press Association and the National Association of Evangelicals, is an annual event. Anyone can come. While covering many topics related to media and ministry, this year the event will have a particular focus on AI and how it is changing the landscape of media ministry.

View the Missions Catalyst Calendar.

Church Growth in Ukraine | Bibles for Bhutan

  1. Ukraine: Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches Growing Tremendously
  2. Australia: Making God Stories Available to Aboriginal People
  3. Bhutan: Scripture for a Staunchly Buddhist Nation
  4. Libya: Christians Arrested and Could Face Death Penalty if Convicted
  5. India: Is Violence in Manipur Ethnic Cleansing? or Religious Cleansing?

Read or share the email edition or scroll down for more.

Ukraine: Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches Growing Tremendously

Source: Assemblies of God World Missions, May 8, 2023

A recent road trip across Ukraine revealed that Pentecostal and evangelical churches are experiencing significant growth, and may emerge from the war stronger than ever before.

“Churches are packed out because people are seeking God,” says Jane M. Dollar, 57, an Assemblies of God world missionary to Ukraine who has spent the past year operating a center for Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

There is great spiritual hunger in the nation, according to Mykhailo Panochko, senior bishop of the 100-year-old Ukrainian Pentecostal Church.

“People heard the message of the good news,” Panochko says. “Many repented and have been discipled and baptized. The harvest is so big that we lack workers, ministers, people who can feed and grow the people, maturing them in Christ.”

For example, a small church in the once-occupied southern city of Kherson has more than 500 new people attending, but only one minister.

“Everyone has many questions about the present situation, but also the future destiny of their souls,” Panochko says. “People are looking for answers.”

Read the full story.

Australia: Making God Stories Accessible to Aboriginal People

Source: Eternity News, May 2, 2023

Susanna Baldwin, Kathy Dadd, and Dave Glasgow were thrilled to launch the Plain English Version Mini Bible at the Katherine Christian Convention in the Northern Territory at the weekend.

Susanna and Kathy have taken over the bulk of the translation work from Dave Glasgow, who launched the project to make the Word of God more accessible to speakers of Aboriginal languages who learn English as a third or fourth language. The Mini Bible contains most of the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, including Genesis chapters 1-21.

Speaking to about 200 people at the Saturday night celebration event, Dave mentioned that the Plain English Version, or PEV, is being used by Aboriginal people not just in the Territory but all up the east coast as far as Cairns, as well as in the Pacific and Asia and even migrant communities in Australia.

It is also one of the most popular versions of the Bible downloaded on YouVersion—something that has come as a welcome surprise.

The full story explains more about the ideas behind the PEV and shows how its translation brings to life captivating stories that are good for sharing, especially with those who do not have the Bible in their own language yet.

From the other side of the world, see also this updated list of America’s 50 largest foreign missions and Bible translation organizations, in terms of revenue and excluding denominational groups (Ministry Watch).

Bhutan: Scripture for a Staunchly Buddhist Nation

Source: Back to Jerusalem, April 2023

For the first time, an audio version of the Bhutan Bible in the Dzongkha language is being secretly recorded inside the country. Indigenous believers are armed with an underground recording studio, supported by BTJ, and are recording the audio Bible in the local language.

Bhutan is one of the most unreached nations in the world. About 0.3% of the population in Bhutan are believers, but the majority of the believers who live in Bhutan are Nepalese. Thus, 99.7% of the indigenous Bhutanese have never heard the gospel, or have ever heard the name of Jesus. In fact, the government doesn’t want to claim the existence of any Christian missionaries within their border.

BTJ is working directly with the Bhutanese underground house church by sponsoring a recording of the Old Testament in an audio format. Please pray that they are able to finish the recording correctly and in a prompt and safe manner.

Read the full story and another from BTJ, How the Very First Chinese Bible Translation Came to Be.

See also What’s Behind the Boom of Christianity in China? (China Christian Daily). It describes an interesting project to build a public database of Christian activity in China during a 400-year period (from 1550 to 1950).