- Editor’s Note: Persecution, Proverbs 22, and a World Parliament
- Korea: The Future of the Korean Mission Movement
- Niger: Triggers, Causes, and Ramifications of the Coup
- India: Religious Violence in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur
- Eritrea: 13 Christians Have Been Set Free from Prison
Read or share the email edition or scroll down to read the stories.
This edition includes several in-depth analyses (in the form of short excerpts). You may want to save or share some of them with others. They address situations in Korea, Niger, and India with skill, humility, and a biblical perspective. Too heavy for you today? Skip to the end for news of prisoners set free in Eritrea and several other countries.
A few more finds:
Standing with the Persecuted
Supporting and praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters is a frequent theme in our Missions Catalyst news briefs. But Wissam al-Saliby says it’s not enough. In fact, he goes so far as to say international anti-persecution strategies are failing Nigerian churches (Christianity Today). Learn more about al-Saliby and his fight for persecuted Christians around the world in Faithful Among the Nations (World).
Wisdom from Proverbs
We’ve heard a lot about the Proverbs 31 woman. But where are today’s Proverbs 22 men? Read Jaimie Oliver Garande of Zimbabwe’s brief reflection on Proverbs 22:9 in To Solve Problems Skillfully (Haggai International). Do you think we need more Proverbs 22 leaders? Let’s pray for them.
Also pray for those participating in the Parliament of World’s Religions, August 14-18 in Chicago. But all religions are not one. I suggest you get the insider scoop from Carl Teichrib, a critical observer and author of the book Game of Gods.
Source: Sahel Blog, August 3, 2023
On July 26, Niger suffered a coup, or perhaps a show of force that escalated into a coup. On July 28, the CNSP proclaimed the head of the Presidential Guard, Abdourahmane Tchiani (or Tiani), as military head of state. The coup has all sorts of geopolitical ramifications, real and imagined, but here I want to leave geopolitics aside and focus on Niger.
The first question concerns the proximate trigger for the coup. Tchiani himself, in a major speech on July 28, evoked “the continuous degradation of the security situation in our country” as well as “bad economic and social governance” as the reasons for the coup. Meanwhile, well-informed observers believe that the real trigger was an effort by [ousted president Mohamed] Bazoum to fire Tchiani. That is the most plausible theory I’ve heard so far.
Tchiani, born in 1964, is an elite, career member of the Nigerien Armed Forces. He has been at the head of the Presidential Guard since 2011. It is probably obvious why he would not want to give up such a post, but to add a little academic heft to the discussion, this saga has made me think of Professor Richard Joseph’s work on “prebendalism” in neighboring Nigeria—the idea that corrupt officeholders treat their offices as extractive opportunities for themselves and their network of supporters. In this view, Tchiani saw his job as simply too valuable to lose.
Read the rest of this long and thorough analysis; including links.
See also an infographic on the coup in Niger (INcontext).
How will believers and ministries be affected by the presence of military dictatorships stretching across this band of Africa from coast to coast? Justin Long addresses this in a new prayer publication based on his weekly news roundup.
Source: Lausanne Global Analysis, July 2023
Korean churches have been committed to cross-cultural missions for decades. They have officially sent out more than 22,000 missionaries abroad in 2021. However, things are not what they used to be.
Changes in mission contexts have grown over the years with increasing nationalism, difficult visa situations, and an influx of migrants to Korea. Symptoms of change and confusion in mission were present long before the COVID era. The most palpable blow was a systemic eviction of Korean missionaries from a restrictive access country in 2017 and 2018. The number of Korean missionaries in this country was once more than 4,000 and has dropped to less than 40 percent of 4,000, according to the data in 2022.
Another critical change was the decline of Christianity in Korea. The number of Christians in Korea has plateaued for the past two decades since 2000 and has decreased drastically in recent years. The problem is not just with the number. Society’s trust [in] Christians is at its record low.
The full story has footnotes, charts and a bit of a case study for a new way forward. The author argues that Korean churches (and others) needs to adopt a more holistic understanding of mission that is not limited to international sending and church planting or focused only on the unreached.
See also Why Christianity Quit Growing in Korea (The Gospel Coalition).
Got time for a couple of podcasts?
Source: Christian Freedom International, August 10, 2023
Pastors and believers in Uttar Pradesh, India, are being jailed, including mothers with their babies, reports the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin.
Since an anti-conversion law was passed in December 2020 up to May 2023, “234 people have been arrested and jailed under the statute, none convicted,” reported Morning Star News.
Pastor Harendra Singh and his wife Priya were arrested during a worship service on July 30. Hindu political extremists accused the couple of trying to convince villagers to convert. Their three-year-old son was incarcerated with Priya.
The same day, Pastor Amarjeet Ram and five believers were arrested during a prayer meeting. Seven other Christians were jailed in other districts.
Days earlier, nine believers were jailed after Hindu nationalists invaded their prayer meeting, threatened, and smashed church property. Later, five women who gathered to pray for the jailed believers were also accused and jailed.
Pray for India’s pastors and believers to remain steadfast in their faith. Pray for God’s protection for Christians to worship and serve others.
Read the full story for more incidents.
Also read this collection by multiple contributors, Reporting on Hindu Nationalism (Religion Link). There’s a lot there.
Source: Todd Nettleton, Voice of the Martyrs, August 2023
On July 22, I sent an email asking you to pray for two Christian pastors spending their 7,000th day in prison and to demand that the Eritrean government release them and hundreds of other imprisoned Christians. In the days after that email went out, more than 10,000 people added their names to the list of those praying for Pastors Haile Nayzgi and Kiflu Gebremeskel as well as other imprisoned Christians in Eritrea.
On the website, we provided information about sending an email or fax to the Eritrean Embassy on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Eritrea. I don’t know how many emails and faxes were sent, but some readers told us their emails to the embassy were bouncing back. Perhaps embassy staff turned off their email server to stop the deluge of emails from concerned Christians.
Just six days after sending that email, we received word from Christian contacts in Eritrea that 13 Christian prisoners had been set free! These six men and seven women had been in prison for 10 years!
I’m saddened that Pastors Nayzgi and Gebremeskel were not among those released. We continue to pray that they will be freed from their prison cells soon, perhaps even as Peter was set free in Acts 12.
Read the full story.
See also other good news of Christians released in Algeria, Haiti, Egypt, Iran, and Pakistan.