You may remember The World as 100 People. It went viral a few years back—a helpful attempt to explain who lives in our world according to a number of different categories.
Do you realize Earth’s population has doubled in size over the last 50 years, now exceeding 8 billion people? More than half of them live in Asia! If you represented the planet’s population as just 1,000 people, using UN data from mid-2023, you’d have 178 in India and 177 in China. Sweden and Honduras would be down to just one person each.
Interested in the big picture? Find some food for thought in a brief article called Better Than You Think, in which Philip Yancey reflects on the message of Hans Roslin (author of the 2018 book Factfulness) about the state of the world.
Items May Have Shifted: When Missionaries Get Rerouted, by Maxine McDonald. Pioneers, 2023. 146 pages.
Many of the most popular missionary biographies paint a picture of heroic figures, often in primitive settings, who stay for many years and become beloved by the people. But things are different now. Pioneers found that half of its field workers who had served for ten years or more had lived in more than one country. Often they saw themselves as “lifers” with a one-way ticket to the first place on their hearts, but issues with visas, civil unrest, health, or family needs took them somewhere they never expected. So, how do they navigate that? What’s it like?
Hear four American missionary couples and a single woman, all serving with Pioneers, tell their stories in Items May Have Shifted.
This book is currently available in three formats. Help yourself to the one that fits your budget and reading preferences.
Pick up the paperback on Amazon or elsewhere (US$15.99)
Disclaimer, I work for Pioneers and was part of the editorial team that created this book. It’s part of our ongoing effort to demystify missions for those who would go and those who send, that both might have a more accurate picture of what it takes and what it may look like to serve cross-culturally in today’s world.
Another new article argues that churches do the future missionary and the church a disservice if they make the sending process too easy or give in to pressures to send out those they aren’t sure are ready to go.
Maybe you’ve seen how hard it can be to build a healthy partnership between church and parachurch (some say “parasite”) groups. One reason? They have different goals. When it comes to missions, the typical church is most interested in seeing their people engaged—an inward focus. And that may drive mission priorities more than it should.
Maybe you’re done decking the halls, shopping for your nearest and dearest, and shipping those glittery cards and thoughtful care packages to ministry partners who are far from home this Christmas. In case you’re not, browse the Christmas page from OSCAR, a UK-based mission information source. It includes Christmas items you can buy to support mission efforts, alternative gift ideas, and other links.
Maybe, like me, you wish you could attend some of the amazing collaborative, creative gatherings you see on the Missions Catalyst calendar. Or perhaps you’d like to make it to meetings of global significance like the APEC leaders’ meeting happening in San Francisco.
Which ones would make Heaven’s headlines? When people gathering to encourage one another and lift up the name of Jesus, that’s surely worth noting. See Brian Stiller’s recent dispatches from The Future of the Gospel Forum in Turkey and a Global Pentecostal Summit held in Singapore. I am blown away by reports of what God is doing.
At the ame time, we continue to hear about heartbreaking situations. So, I’d also like to share a little tool that I came across to help us pray for the suffering and sick this holiday season. Mission India suggests using the very flexible BLESS prayer. (See also a description of this prayer from Zúme.) I’m using it to pray for Palestinians in Gaza and for the 125 kids receiving Operation Christmas Child boxes my church sent this week. Who’s on your list?
On October 3, the government of Pakistan announced that all “illegal immigrants” must leave the country by November 1 or face forced deportation. The announcement has been criticized by foreign governments and international rights organizations for its alleged targeting of the approximately 1.7 million Afghans living in the country as refugees and displaced persons.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti announced that those who voluntarily turn themselves in will receive “incentives and help” with their relocation. However, those who do not leave voluntarily will face arrest, detention, and deportation with no assistance. Those leaving are allowed to take up to 50,000 Pakistani rupees (US$173) out of the country.
Bugti emphasized that there will be no deadline extensions, and any Afghan person found without proper documentation will be handed over to Afghan authorities. He also warned that businesses and property owned by Afghans are also at risk of seizure. However, the decision is said to not affect those who are officially registered as refugees in Pakistan or those with proper paperwork to be in the country.
Wondering how things are going now that the deadline has passed? See a photo essay about the returnees, “Just Sitting in the Dirt”: Afghans Forced From Pakistan Struggle to Find Shelter (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). Many are also returning to Afghanistan from Iran and facing similar conditions. The UN estimates that over 29 million Afghans—out of a population of around 40 million—need humanitarian assistance. Globally, the number of displaced people continues to break records.
In September 2012, Mango Magic was born with the idea to bring fresh mango smoothies to Tacloban, Philippines. In 2013, the successful business that had begun flourishing was wiped out by typhoon Yolanda. But, through hard work and dedication, the [owners] started their business from the ground up again. Today, it is a successful business with thriving franchises throughout the Philippines.
Like many Filipinos [president and CEO JJ Chan] was raised in the church. He knew about God at a very young age and was always active in the church [but] realized that, over the years, his focus and achievements in life had become about worldly success and the approval of others. He rededicated his life to Jesus and began living his life through God’s plans, and not his own.
“I am now re-committed to being God’s instrument to effect change and transformation in the lives of people in this nation through the gospel of Jesus,” he says.
He cares for his employees the way Jesus cares for his people and, just as Mango Magic wants to “spread happiness in every smoothie,” JJ wants to ensure all the employees experience true joy in Jesus.