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?

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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).

Libya: Christians Arrested and Could Face Death Penalty if Convicted

Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, May 10, 2023

Six Christian Libyan nationals arrested during March and early April for apostasy (leaving Islam) and Christian proselytism (missionary work) could face the death penalty if found guilty. Videos of the detained believers confessing to their “crimes” have been posted on-line. One believer is a 22-year-old woman who became a follower of Christ [at] aged 15. Another believer is reported to have renounced his faith under torture; may he be comforted by the amazing grace of his Savior, Jesus Christ.

Two U.S. citizens arrested around the same time for alleged Christian proselytism have been released and deported to Tunisia (Libya Update).

Meanwhile, Nigerian pastor Femi Abraham Akinboye—arrested by an Islamic militia in July 2021 while seeking a permit for the church he had established—remains detained, his fate unknown. Lord have mercy! Please pray.

The full story includes links, background, and more prayer points.

From another part of the world, we read that in Cuba, documented violations of religious freedom more than doubled from 2021 to 2022 (story from Baptist Standard, responding to a report from Christian Solidarity Worldwide).

Closer to home for some: In February, we included a news brief about after-school Satan clubs in the U.S. Those are back in the news after a court ruled in favor of The Satanic Temple (The Hill).

India: Is Violence in Manipur Ethnic Cleansing? or Religious Cleansing?

Source: Mission Network News, May 17, 2023

In Manipur, India, more than 2,500 homes of tribal Christians are now just frames and ashes. Meitei Hindus in northeast India began attacking tribal Christians two weeks ago in a horrific campaign of violence.

So far, at least 68 people have been killed and over 25,000 displaced—forced to flee while their houses and churches burned.

With different messages coming from various media outlets, people are asking, is this an ethnic cleansing? Or a religious cleansing?

A ministry worker with A3 (formerly Asian Access) says, “Personally, I feel it’s both. So it’s part of ethnic cleansing, but also it’s part of the Hindu fanatics propagating their religious views because Christians are considered to be one of the greatest enemies and they will try to destroy the strongholds of Christianity. If it’s ethnic cleansing only, why do they have to burn 121 churches? To me, I think it’s more like two sides of the same coin.”

Read the full story. Please pray.

For more background on this conflict check out Indian Troops Ordered to “Shoot on Sight” amid Violence in Manipur (The Guardian) as well as a roundup from the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin.